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6 Ways Marketing Content Can Support a Customer Service Team

“Hold on, let me just confirm the solution for you,” the service rep responds as she scrambles to look up the answer to a customer’s question.

It’s the corporate equivalent of a retail employee wandering aimlessly down each aisle when you ask where a certain product is, like you couldn’t have done that yourself.

Customers will eventually stump customer service (a department sometimes known as customer success, if it’s more focused on proactive goal-setting than reactive troubleshooting) with a question they ask over the phone or in a live chat window. And that’s okay; it’s hard to always have all the answers at the ready.

What’s not okay is when this becomes a pattern — customer success employees seeming puzzled by the same problems or questions every time their clients bring them up.

Does this sound like the situation at your company? Consider tapping your marketing department to fill those knowledge gaps.

You may have heard the term “smarketing,” which describes the ideal alignment of Marketing and Sales through shared goals and direct communication. What if I told you the same alignment could benefit Marketing and Customer Success, too?

There’s a critical opportunity for both Marketing and Customer Success to help each other better serve their common audience. Here are six ways Marketing can help customer success managers (CSMs) and service reps transform the client experience, and the benefit Marketing can receive in return.

6 Ways Marketing Content Can Support a Customer Service Team

1. Distilling Marketing Content Into Monthly Digests

Customer Success might already receive their company blog’s newsletter, but their conversations with clients can benefit from more tailored recommendations.

A dedicated roundup email just for these employees — offering a digest of the most product- or customer-focused material from the previous month or quarter — can ensure the team is always tuned into the issues Marketing knows their audience is most interested in.

A good place to start? Identify the latest ebooks, how-to articles, and data sheets your website is offering for download, and highlight the key points across each piece in this recurring email. Also known as “middle-of-the-funnel” content, this type of content can be hugely helpful to a customer success team because it reinforces product and value proposition comprehension.

Putting this material in client-facing hands ensures their remarks to customers are consistent with what people are reading on your blog or website.

2. Creating a Content Library on the Intranet

An internal wiki or intranet for sharing resources with coworkers is the perfect space for a content library. According to CMO Council, 40% of salespeople’s time is spent looking for content that Marketing has created. Because Customer success talks to customers just as often as Sales does, it stands to reason they do the same thing.

Rather than letting your CSMs Google everything Marketing has published — and potentially sending a dreaded “unusual traffic” signal to Google if they search too much — repost this content as links on an intranet page created just for Sales and/or Customer Success.

Sort the relevant articles and offers by common customer queries: An article on good email subject lines, for example, might be appropriate bucketed under the topic “how customers can stay out of their own clients’ spam folders.”

3. Reporting on Social Media Interaction

What do social media and community managers have in common with customer success managers? They see lots of customer complaints — but in a Twitter post or Facebook comment, rather than over the phone or in a live chat window.

And yet customer service experts at Sparkcentral suggest only 8% of marketing and customer service employees work together on social media. This is a missed opportunity.

If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that people are more willing to be honest about their feelings and experiences from behind a computer screen than they are in person or over the phone. That means Marketing could be sitting on a goldmine of feedback from social media followers that the folks in customer success hasn’t seen.

Want to help them serve your customers better? Open a line of communication with Customer Success to report on the latest interactions with followers of the brand’s social media accounts on a regular cadence. This should include both public comments and private messages, allowing CSMs to see how Marketing talks to users and diagnoses problems their clients may not be revealing directly.

4. Joining Kickoff or Implementation Meetings

Customer success departments that also onboard new customers are sometimes thrown broad questions about the industry during initial calls.

For example, in the marketing industry, a customer might ask, “what content should I publish?” versus or in addition to, “how do I integrate my content management system (CMS) with your product?” The first question may go beyond the product issues that service reps are trained to handle.

Luckily, industry best practices are marketers’ bread and butter, making them excellent wingmen during these kickoff meetings. Including just one marketing employee in this process can help keep the customer thoroughly educated in the early stages of a business relationship.

These kickoffs can take place frequently, though, and it’s important to be respectful of the marketing department’s time. If your marketing employees are separated by industry specialization, consider rotating them into kickoffs for clients that fit their area of expertise.

If their workload simply doesn’t allow for it, having marketing’s leadership staff (such as the CMO or VP of Marketing) take this responsibility may be in the best interest of the rest of the team.

5. Reporting on Chatbot Conversations

Chatbots and similar chat tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) aren’t yet ubiquitous in marketing, but for companies that have deployed AI-powered chatbots, these transcripts are invaluable to your customer service team.

(Skeptical about the AI hype? Research shows you may already be using AI and not realize it!)

Chatbot technology allows companies to talk to customers via messaging apps — or natively as a feature of their website — with an automated “bot” programmed to answer common questions about their services.

If your company hosts a chatbot on, say, HubSpot Conversations (get it for free here), it was likely set up to handle quick-answer queries so client-facing staff can spend time solving more complex problems for the customer. A smart move, no doubt about it.

However, this might also mean a log of some very interesting dialogue between a prospect visiting your website and a robot who speaks on the company’s behalf is going unseen by employees who can learn from it.

This chatbot might be designed to lighten the load of questions normally posed to a human service rep, but don’t let the automated conversations go to waste. Go a step further and examine how people are interacting with the chatbot.

57% of people use AI chatbots from customer success to get business information.

People tend to lean on chatbots for open-ended, educational needs rather than technical issues, so examine your transcripts for trends in what users need the most information on when perusing your business’ website.

For example, you might baffle Customer Success with how many people ask the chatbot about a third-party integration your product offers relative to how little detail your website or CSMs provide on the subject themselves. Time to create some informational middle-of-the-funnel content …

6. Using Their Insights to Make Your Marketing Content Better

Like in Smarketing, the role of Marketing to Customer Success is a two-way street. Customer Success can offer valuable client insights right back to Marketing, which allows marketers to improve their content so it’s addressing the questions Customer Success typically needs help answering for clients.

Just as marketing teams have the opportunity to distill their content into an internal email specifically for service reps (per section 1 above), Customer Success likely keeps transcripts or recordings of their conversations with clients. Consider working with your Customer Success peers on a simple report that highlights call FAQs. Who knows? The company blog or website may be neglecting your customers’ most burning questions.

In addition, brainstorming sessions shouldn’t always be exclusive to the Marketing team. Everyone at the business can bring valuable content suggestions to the table, and Customer Success in particular has a breadth of on-the-job experience with clients that could make for a great how-to article or video.

Don’t hesitate to invite them to your next idea meeting.

Companies with the best customer experience share information across every department, and Customer Success is no exception. By keeping this department informed on what Marketing does all day, you equip them with the answers they’re expected to have and offer a more stable buyer’s journey to everyone the company works with.

Ask Yoast: Order of categories and subcategories in URLs

It’s important to put some thought into your URL structure, particularly when you’re starting a new website. If you make sure your URL structure is clear and focused right from the beginning, you won’t have to face the huge task of changing and redirecting all your URLs later on. But, of course, sometimes you need to revise your site’s taxonomy, and changing things is inevitable.

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You’ll be faced with many choices when you’re revising your site, and you probably hope there’s one clear-cut way to approach things. Unfortunately, often that’s not the case. In our Ask Yoast inbox, we receive many questions that are so specific to a site’s situation, history and mission, that no one but the site owner can really answer them. But of course, we can try to help by clearing some things up. So let’s get to this week’s question!

Matt Markley emailed us this question:

We are revising our site’s taxonomy. Does the order of categories and subcategories in the URL have an impact on SEO? The category keyword is more important to rank than the subcategory keyword.

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

The SEO impact of the order of categories and subcategories in URLs

“Well, yes it matters. Mostly because, if you’re going to change the order, the links matter. And if the links on your site change, so you need to redirect them, you might lose some rankings because of that.

Other than that, no they don’t really matter. The question is: do you truly need the category and the subcategory in your permalinks? Or could you actually go with shorter permalinks and would that be better? That’s something that you have to ask yourself, not a question I can answer for you. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read more: ‘The perfect WordPress SEO permalink structure’ »

The post Ask Yoast: Order of categories and subcategories in URLs appeared first on Yoast.

How (and Whether) to Invest in and Structure Online Communities – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Building an online community sounds like an attractive idea on paper. A group of enthusiastic, engaged users working on their own to boost your brand? What’s the hitch?

Well, building a thriving online community takes a great deal of effort, often with little return for a very long time. And there are other considerations: do you build your own platform, participate in an existing community, or a little of both? What are the benefits from a brand, SEO, and content marketing perspective? In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, Rand answers all your questions about building yourself an online community, including whether it’s an investment worth your time.

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How and whether to invest in and structure online communities

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, we’re chatting about how and whether to invest in and structure online communities.

I want to say a thank you to @DaveCraige on Twitter. Dave, thank you very much for the question, an excellent one. I think this is something that a lot of content marketers, web marketers, community builders think about is, “Should I be making an investment in building my own community? Should I leverage someone’s existing community? How can I do that and benefit from an SEO perspective and a content marketing and a brand awareness perspective?” So we’ll try and tackle some of those questions today on Whiteboard Friday.

Strategy first!

First off, before you go and invest anywhere or build anything, I urge you to think strategy first, meaning your business has goals. You have things that you want to accomplish. Maybe those are revenue growth or conversions. Maybe they have to do with entering a new sphere of influence or pursuing a new topic. Maybe you’re trying to launch a new product. Maybe you’re trying to pivot the business or disrupt yourself, change with technology.

Whatever those business goals are, they should lead you to marketing goals, the things that marketing can help to accomplish in those business goals. From that should fall out a bunch of tactics and initiatives. It’s only down here, in your marketing goals and tactical initiatives, that if online communities match up with those and serve your broader business goals, that you should actually make the investment. If not or if they fall below the line of, “Well, we can do three things that we think this year and do them well and this is thing number 4 or number 5 or number 10,” it doesn’t make the cut.

Online communities fit here if…

1. A passionate group of investment-worthy size exists in your topic.

So if, for example, you are targeting a new niche. I think Dave himself is in cryptocurrency. There’s definitely a passionate group of people in that sphere, and it is probably of investment-worthy size. More recently, that investment has been a little rocky, but certainly a large size group, and if you are targeting that group, a community could be worthwhile. So we have passion. We have a group. They are of sizable investment.

2. You/your brand/your platform can provide unique value via a community that’s superior to what’s available elsewhere.

Second, you or your brand or your platform can provide not just value but unique value, unique value different from what other people are offering via a community superior to what’s available elsewhere. Dave might himself say, “Well, there’s a bunch of communities around crypto, but I believe that I can create X, which will be unique in ways Y and Z and will be preferable for these types of participants in this way.” Maybe that’s because it enables sharing in certain ways. Maybe it enables transparency of certain kinds. Maybe it’s because it has no vested interest or ties to particular currencies or particular companies, whatever the case may be.

3. You’re willing to invest for years with little return to build something of great long-term value.

And last but not least, you’re willing to invest potentially for years, literally years without return or with very little return to build something of great long-term value. I think this is the toughest one. But communities are most similar in attribute to content marketing, where you’re going to put in a ton of upfront effort and a lot of ongoing effort before you’re going to see that return. Most of the time, most communities fail because the people behind them were not willing to make the investments to build them up, or they made other types of mistakes. We’ll talk about that in a second.

Two options: Build your own platform, or participate in an existing community

You have two options here. First, you can build your own platform. Second, you can participate in an existing community. My advice on this is never do number one without first spending a bunch of time in number two.

So if you are unfamiliar with the community platforms that already exist in interior decorating or in furniture design or in cryptocurrency or in machining tools or in men’s fashion, first participate in the communities that already exist in the space you’re targeting so that you are very familiar with the players, the platforms, the options, and opportunities. Otherwise, you will never know whether it’s an investment-worthy size, a passionate group. You’ll never know how or whether you can provide unique value. It’s just going to be too tough to get those things down. So always invest in the existing communities before you do the other one.

1. Build your own platform

Potential structures

Let’s talk quickly about building your own platform, and then we’ll talk about investing in others. If you’re deciding that what matches your goals best and your strategy best is to build your own platform, there are numerous opportunities. You can do it sort of halfway, where you build on someone else’s existing platform, for example creating your own subreddit or your own Facebook or LinkedIn group, which essentially uses another community’s platform, but you’re the owner and administrator of that community.

Or you can actually build your own forum or discussion board, your own blog and comments section, your own Q&A board, your own content leaderboard, like Hacker News or like Dharmesh and I did with Inbound.org, where we essentially built a Reddit or Hacker News-like clone for marketers.

Those investments are going to be much more severe than a Facebook group or a Twitter hashtag, a Twitter chat or a LinkedIn group, or those kinds of things, but you want to compare the benefits and drawbacks. In each, there are some of each.

Benefits & drawbacks

So forums and discussions, those are going to have user-generated content, which is a beautiful thing because it scales non-linearly with your investment. So if you build up a community of people who are on an ongoing basis creating topics and answering those topics and talking about those things in either a Q&A board or a forum discussion or a content leaderboard, what’s great is you get that benefit, that SEO benefit of having a bunch of longtail, hopefully high-quality content and discussion you’re going to need to do.

Mostly, what you’re going to worry about is drawbacks like the graveyard effect, where the community appears empty and so no one participates and maybe it drags down Google’s perception of your site because you have a bunch of low quality or thin pages, or people leave a bunch of spam in there or they become communities filled with hate groups, and the internet can devolve very quickly, as you can see from a lot of online communities.

Whatever you’re doing, blog and comments, you get SEO benefits, you get thought leadership benefits, but it requires regular content investments. You don’t get the UGC benefit quite like you would with a forum or a discussion. With Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups, Twitter hashtags, it’s easy to build, but there’s no SEO benefit, usually very little to none.

With a Q&A board, you do get UGC and SEO. You still have those same moderation and graveyard risks.

With content leaderboards, they’re very difficult to maintain, Inbound.org being a good example, where Dharmesh and I figured, “Hey, we can get this thing up and rolling,” and then it turns out no, we need to hire people and maintain it and put in a bunch of effort and energy. But it can become a bookmarkable destination, which means you get repeat traffic over and over.

Whatever you’re choosing, make sure you list out these benefits and then align these with the strategy, the marketing goal, the tactics and initiatives that flow from those. That’s going to help determine how you should structure, whether you should structure your own community.

2. Participate in existing communities

Size/reach

The other option is participating in existing ones, places like Quora, subreddits, Twitter, LinkedIn groups, existing forums. Same thing, you’re going to take these. Well, we can participate on an existing forum, and we can see that the size and reach is on average about nine responses per thread, about three threads per day, three new threads per day.

Benefits & drawbacks

The benefit is that it can build up our thought leadership and our recognition among this group of influential people in our field. The drawback is it builds our competitor’s content, because this forum is going to be ranking for all those things. They own the platform. It’s not our owned platform. Then we align that with our goals and initiatives.

Four bits of advice

1. If you build, build for SEO + owned channels. Don’t create on someone else’s platform.

So I’m not going to dive through all of these, but I do want to end on some bits of advice. So I mentioned already make sure you invest in other people’s communities before you build your own. I would also add to that if you’re going to build something, if you’re going to build your own, I would generally rule these things out — LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Twitter hashtag groups. Why? Because those other platforms control them, and then they can change them at any time and your reach can change on those platforms. I would urge you to build for SEO and for an owned media channel.

2. Start with a platform that doesn’t lose credibility when empty (e.g. blog > forum).

Second, I’d start with a platform that doesn’t lose credibility when it’s empty. That is to say if you know you want to build a forum or a content leaderboard or a Q&A board, make it something where you know that you and your existing team can do all the work to create a non-graveyard-like environment initially. That could mean limiting it to only a few sections in a forum, or all the Q&A goes in one place as opposed to there are many subforums that have zero threads and zero comments and zero replies, or every single thing that’s posted, we know that at least two of us internally will respond to them, that type of stuff.

3. Don’t use a subdomain or separate domain.

Third, if you can, avoid using a subdomain and definitely don’t use a separate domain. Subdomains inherit some of the ranking ability and benefits of the primary domain they’re on. Separate domains tend to inherit almost none.

4. Before you build, gather a willing, excited crew via an email group who will be your first active members.

Last, but not least, before you build, gather a willing, excited group of people, your crew, hopefully via an email group — this has served me extremely well — who will be those first active members.

So if you’re building something in the crypto space, as maybe Dave is considering, I might say to him, hey, find those 10 or 15 or 20 people who are in your world, who you talk to online already, create an email group, all be chatting with each other and contributing. Then start your Q&A board, or then start your blog and your comments section, or then start your forum, what have you. If you can seed it with that initial passionate group, you will get over a lot of the big hurdles around building or rolling your own community system.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and we’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Your Email Strategy Needs a Facebook Messenger Strategy

As of late, it feels like an arms race between email marketing or Messenger marketing. A world where marketers have to pick: the workhorse of today or the most exciting channel of tomorrow?

At first glance, I can see why. We’ve seen audiences engage an insane amount on Messenger — 619% more than email. There’s also a cool 1.3 billion people who use Messenger on a regular basis.

When companies ask me which one to use, my answer surprises them: have your cake and eat it, too. Email and Messenger together will make your business more money than picking one. Which one you should use when — and for whom — comes down to context.

Here are three things to consider as you decide which areas of your marketing strategy need email, and which need Messenger.

Purpose

Every interaction your company has with someone needs a purpose. All communication should be deliberate, whether it’s with a prospect or a customer. Your marketing goal will determine whether email or Messenger makes more sense.

In some cases, you have a lot to say — or show. That’s a big reason email remains the channel of choice for long-form communication. Email wins at getting lengthy points across that people can store and share later. More often than not, though, most marketing and sales emails I get don’t fall into that camp.

“Chatting with you > Talking at you”

This is where Messenger’s shorter communication style thrives. When you get an email, it feels like companies are talking at you. With Messenger, those same companies are chatting with you. It also pays to keep in mind who you’re trying to reach. Even though chatting is better for some, it’s not better for all.

Demographics

Did your audience use the internet between 1990-2005? Chances are email was how they kept in touch with friends and businesses. It still is older generations’ line to businesses, according to HubSpot. Email used to be our connection to businesses and a personal CRM. But times have changed.

Younger generations don’t spend time in their email inbox; they message one another. It’s part of a larger shift where messaging apps have become the activity that dominates 91% of our time on screens. To be a successful marketer in 2018, you need to meet users where they spend their time. The most delightful marketing experiences of tomorrow will happen on platforms like Messenger.

How my dad thinks I use my phone, anyways.

Experience

If you and I are anything alike, you’ve gone through a few email addresses over the years. Student email? Good until graduation. Work address? Great until you change jobs. Email addresses tie to finite periods in our lives. Things like Facebook IDs, though, will never change. You’re always going to be you. Messenger Marketing means you can engage with someone throughout their life.

Okay, not as many as Homer. But you get the idea.

Over time, you’ll learn more about prospects that you can use to personalize how you engage them. It’s a best practice across platforms. Messenger has a secret sauce in this camp, though, that many marketers don’t realize. You can personalize in real-time on Messenger. Every word they say or button they click can steer them into a hyper-targeted experience. You’ll capture their intent and delight right away, without having to wait until the next email goes out.

Better Together

Let your audience set the tone for where they want to engage with you. It’ll add value across all your channels in both the short and long-term. There’s some group of your email audience that wants to hear from you, but not in their email inbox. Give those people another option for staying in touch, like Messenger.

Once you do that, there’s a good chance that you see an improvement in both open and click-through rates. Every message going out the door is only to people who want to hear from you on that channel. This can help your deliverability score in the long-term, too.

That’s not to say it’s an absolute one or the other. Be tasteful and use both together. We have a lot of people who prefer to download e-books on Messenger. But after talking with them, we learned that many of them still read it on desktop. We started emailing them a copy of their e-book, too, to provide a better experience. Think back to the differences between email and Messenger we discussed in this post. Use both channels together in tandem when you see value.

There are few times in life where 1+1=3. Marketing through email and Messenger in tandem is one of them. The behemoth channels of today and tomorrow have their differences. It’s not about how you use one, though, it’s about how you use both. Great marketers will use context to have their cake and eat it, too.

I find and analyze the most interesting messaging articles so you don’t have to. Follow me here. 👈 Want to chat about chat? Message me here.

Help us test Yoast SEO 7.0

We have got something special for you, but before we release it for real, we need your help testing it: Yoast SEO 7.0. This is one of the biggest releases we have ever done, hence the jump from version 6.3 to 7.0. We’ve greatly simplified the interface, deprecated unused features and combined others into smarter features. By cleaning up our code, we have also drastically improved the performance of the plugin. Now, we need your help testing Yoast SEO 7.0 so we can fix every bug we can find before the final release two weeks from now.

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How to test Yoast SEO 7.0

You can test the latest beta for Yoast SEO 7.0 by downloading it and installing it in your WordPress backend. We would advise you to install it on a test install or staging environment. Installing it on a live site is at your own risk. As always, make a backup before playing with beta software.

Download Yoast SEO 7.0 beta here »

Please report any issues you find in our Yoast SEO GitHub repository. You can find more information about the process on the Contributing to Yoast SEO page. Together, we can make this an incredible release.

What’s changing in Yoast SEO 7.0?

There’s going to be a lot of changes in Yoast SEO 7.0, both visible and invisible. See the changelog for the full list of changes. Here, I’ll go over some of the most obvious changes within your favorite SEO plugin. It all started with a quest to simplify things…

We’re asking you simple questions

The configuration pages will be different, simpler, more user-focussed.

meta robots old

Old situation with Meta Robots toggle

Compare this old situation with the new one below:

meta robots new

New situation with user-friendly question

The “Meta Robots” setting in the old version does exactly the same as the “Allow search engines” question in the new one but is understandable to people who have less experience with SEO.

The menu looks drastically different too:

old vs new menu yoast seo 7.0

Left: the old menu. Right: the new menu

In the old situation, Yoast SEO had an XML sitemaps menu item. In it, you could exclude “post types” (like Posts and Pages) and “taxonomies” (Categories and Tags, for example) from appearing in the XML sitemap. The only reason you would want to exclude post types and taxonomies from the XML sitemap is when you don’t want them to appear in the search engines. So… If your answer to the question above was “No”, I don’t want <x> to appear in the search engines, we now also exclude them from the XML sitemap. This might seem like a simple change, but it took a large portion of our options away in one fell swoop.

You could also disable XML sitemaps entirely on this menu item. This is what we call a “feature toggle”. This toggle has been moved to the Features tab on the Dashboard.

Titles & Metas becomes Search Appearance

The Titles & Metas menu item has been renamed “Search Appearance”. There are a few more settings on this page now, but in a more logical arrangement:

Old titles & metas menu

Old titles & metas menu

new search appearance yoast seo 7.0

New Search Appearance menu

General & Homepage have been combined. This tab also features the contents of the “Your Info” / “Company Info” tab we had on the Dashboard before. Media is new and is explained below. Breadcrumbs and RSS were moved here from the Advanced menu item, which is now completely gone.

Media (or: Attachment URLs)

When you upload an image or a video to WordPress, WordPress automatically creates an attachment URL for it, next to allowing you to link to the media item directly. This is much the same as a post URL, but it has no real SEO value. Most sites therefore never use these attachment URLs, but because WordPress sometimes links to them, they do start being indexed by search engines.

Yoast SEO long had a feature that allowed you to redirect attachment URLs for images to the post they were embedded in. This seems logical. But an image can be embedded in multiple posts, and as the Media part of WordPress gets better, this happens more often. At this point, where do you redirect an attachment URL to?

It also means that images that are not attached to a post could not be redirected. So we’ve changed that behavior: there’s now a toggle that will disable all attachment URLs. If you enable that (which will be the default for new sites), we redirect all attachment URLs to the media item itself. Clean, simple, much better SEO wise and much easier to understand.

The Advanced menu item had three tabs: Breadcrumbs, Permalinks and RSS. Breadcrumbs and RSS have been moved to Search Appearance; Permalinks is gone. There were two features there that we kept around:

  • The feature that allows removing /category/ from category URLs. This is useful in some cases, so we’ve moved it to the Taxonomies menu under Search Appearance.
  • The feature that removed ?replytocom variables from URLs. This is a core “feature” that makes it possible to reply to other people’s comments when JavaScript is disabled in your browser. Every comment gets its own link because of this feature, so if you have 100 comments, you get 100 extra links to a post, and search engines have to index every one of these links. This is stupid. So: our feature to remove those is now on by default and doesn’t have a setting anymore. This falls in line with WordPress’ core philosophy: decisions, not options. There is a ticket open to change this behavior in WordPress core too.

Advanced features toggle

For a while, Yoast SEO had a toggle for advanced features. This felt like a good idea at the time, but instead of properly explaining features, we hid them. In Yoast SEO 7.0, we’ve improved all features that we’re hard to explain. Luckily there were only a few of those, and they were so old that I’ve had to delete code that I wrote myself ten years ago.

Under the hood

Under the hood, there have also been several performance optimizations. We’ve changed how we set and retrieve options. We’ve removed all functions that had been deprecated before 2017. This is old code that we no longer use but was kept around for backward compatibility. These changes lead to less memory usage and a faster plugin overall.

But why now?

Well, to be honest, I have to give credit to Yoast Academy for this one. I was recording screencasts of the backend and couldn’t stand some of the things I had to explain. So we decided to start fixing them. Our development team has worked very hard to keep up with all the ideas, and we’re very proud to show you what we’ve built.

One more thing: a new icon

Because 7.0 is a big thing, we thought we’d make it even bigger: Yoast SEO is getting a new icon. The traffic light we’ve used for so long has turned out not to be a good metaphor across all cultures. In fact, we’ve learned that traffic lights differ per country and green is sometimes on top, and sometimes on the bottom.

So, without further ado: this is the new icon for Yoast SEO:Yoast SEO new icon

Awesome, right?

When will Yoast SEO 7.0 be ready?

We’re planning to release the final version of Yoast SEO 7.0 on Tuesday, March 6th. Since this is such a big release, we’ve decided to extend the testing period by two weeks so we can get as many eyes as possible on this release before we push it to everyone. You can help us find and fix issues by installing the release candidate, as mentioned above and go on a bug hunting trip. Add any issue you find or feedback you have to GitHub.

Happy testing!

Read more: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

The post Help us test Yoast SEO 7.0 appeared first on Yoast.

How to Manage Your Entire Marketing Budget [Free Budget Tracker Templates]

Here’s a hypothetical for you: Let’s say your company has decided to invest in a website redesign so you can improve lead generation, and you’re responsible for managing the project. Naturally, one of the first questions you have is, “How much is this website redesign going to cost?”

The answer, of course, is “it depends.” Are you simply switching to a new template and adding some new CTAs, or are you migrating your entire website to a new platform?

If only there were a way to organize your answers to all of these questions — a place where you could enter in estimated costs for all of your line items, and then compare your projected marketing budget to what you actually end up spending …

Good news! Our latest offer, 8 Free Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend, has got you covered. Included in our eight budget templates bundle is a template to manage your website redesign … as well as templates for both Excel and Google Sheets to help you track your content budget, paid advertising budget, event budget, and more.

Click here to download your 8 free marketing budget templates.

Here’s a peek:

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Aligning Your Budget With Your Marketing Goals

What you spend and where you spend it will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. This is especially true when it comes to paid advertising like search and display ads, social media ads, and so on.

HubSpot’s former Demand Generation Marketer and Trello’s current Product Marketing Manager, Jessica Webb, says this about how your costs can change when focusing on lead generation vs. lead conversion: “The majority of money you spend on paid efforts is usually calculated based on volume of clicks or impressions. Because of this, you’ll often want to put more budget toward campaigns with higher-volume offers and audiences.”

“An example, a tweet or Facebook ad promoting a lead generation offer that leans more top of the funnel will likely receive more clicks than something that falls more toward the middle or bottom of the funnel,” she explains.

Your paid advertising costs will also change depending on how wide of an audience you are attempting to reach. “You can look at Twitter advertising as an example,” Webb explains. “You have to option to target your campaigns based on users’ interests or keywords searched for. Interests are a much broader category, whereas smaller pockets of users are searching for any given keyword, therefore your interests-based audience is going to be much larger and require a larger budget.”

To keep better track of your paid advertising efforts,download the Paid Advertising Budget Template (included in the8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

Beware Hidden Costs

One of the great advantages to having and maintaining a budget spreadsheet is that it helps you avoid those end-of-the-quarter or end-of-the-year freak outs when you realize, “Whoa … what did I spend all that money on?”

In many cases, unanticipated costs can force marketers to fork over cash that they didn’t plan on spending. Product marketing offers a perfect example. According HubSpot’s VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson, it’s easy to forget that successfully marketing your products and services requires more than just promotion.

“When people allocate budget for product marketing, they tend to think in terms of product launches and promotional activities,” Anderson explains. “That’s certainly an important part of it, but another area of focus to remember is setting aside resources to conduct research and message testing long before the product ever goes to market. Having conversations with customers about the pain points your product will ultimately address is critical to shaping the messaging and having a successful launch.”

To better manage your product marketing efforts, download the Product Marketing Budget Template (included in the 8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

Remember Where Your Priorities Lie

Marketing is overflowing with add-ons and extras, upsells, and “premium” versions. One of the best ways to assess what’s nice to have versus what’s absolutely necessary is to (you guessed it) organize all of your expenses. By keeping tabs on where your budget is being allocated, and cross-checking that spending with the results you’re getting, it will be much easier to figure out what should keep getting budget and what should get kicked to the curb.

For example, let’s look to the world of public relations. In PR, there are countless tools to which you can allocate budget, which could leave you overspending where it doesn’t matter — and underspending where it does.

“Tools abound to help PR practitioners not only create and distribute great content and find and target key stakeholders, but to ultimately measure reach and effectiveness,” says Nathaniel Eberle, HubSpot’s former Director of PR & Brand and LogMeIn’s current Director of Global Brand Management. “The key is making sure you’re laser-focused on who you’re setting out to reach and influence, then ensuring that your budget supports how they’ll most likely want to receive (and share) your key messages.

“As the media and digital landscape evolves at breakneck speed, continually reassessing the tools, services, and programs you’re employing is a great way to determine real-time ROI of your overall spend. Today’s measurement tool may be worthless to you tomorrow.”

To get better at prioritizing your PR line items, download the PR Budget Template (included in the 8 Budget Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend).

It’s Not All About the Benjamins

When you open up these budget templates and check out all the various expenses detailed in them, don’t fret if you can’t tick every box. I’m not advocating for an “always spend more” approach to marketing. I’m advocating for an “always spend smart” approach. The expenses listed out aren’t mandatory — they’re just meant to guide your thinking and to help ensure that you haven’t overlooked any hidden costs.

With that in mind, here’s the full list of budget templates included in the bundle.

The 8 Marketing Budget Templates You Need to Manage Your Marketing Spend

With the 8 Free Budget Planner Templates to Manage Your Marketing Spend, you’ll be able to manage all of the moving pieces of your budget at a monthly and quarterly level. Use the Excel version of the templates to keep all of your budgets in one place. When you download the zip file, you’ll find a separate file for each marketing team, as well as a Master Budget Template to maintain a high-level view of your overall expenses.

Interested in sharing your marketing budget across a larger team? Try the Google Sheets version of the same eight templates to share access with other Gmail users. For the Google Sheets templates, each team budget is found in a separate tab of the same Google Sheet. No matter which version you choose, each budget is optimized with the same line items, tips, and graphs. Read on to learn how to use each budget template.

1. Master Marketing Budget Template

Download the Master Marketing Budget Template here.

While it’s helpful to have individual budget templates for specific marketing departments and activities, it’s also nice to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture. The Master Marketing Budget Template let’s you do just that: It’s the place where you can collect the totals from the other seven templates in the bundle and see all of your expenses in one place.

master marketing budget template in excel

2. Product Marketing Budget Template

Download the Product Marketing Budget Template here.

This template will guide you step-by-step through the process of budgeting for a product launch. From determining product/market fit, to running user testing sessions, to promoting your finished product, our Product Marketing Budget Template will help ensure you don’t overlook any important expenses.

excel budget template for product marketing

3. Content Budget Template

Download the Content Budget Template here.

The budget required for creating and promoting content can vary greatly from organization to organization. For example, while some organizations keep most of their content operations in-house, others rely more heavily on freelancers and contractors. And while some use many different software products, publishing tools, and services, others take a much simpler approach.

Our Content Budget Template is designed to cover as many content-related bases as possible. So, if you see any expenses listed that don’t apply to your organization, go ahead and delete them. (That’s the beauty of Excel spreadsheets: You can customize them to your specific needs.)

excel budget template for content marketing

4. Paid Advertising Budget Template

Download the Paid Advertising Budget Template here.

Paid advertising: Does it really qualify as an inbound marketing tactic/channel? That is a loaded question, my friends, and one that I don’t have room to answer in-depth in this post. What I can tell you for sure is that you can do paid advertising in an “inboundy” way — i.e. by targeting specific buyer personas and using paid advertising as a supplement to your organic efforts to help drive awareness and conversion opportunities.

Measuring the effectiveness of your paid advertising campaigns is also paramount to doing things the inbound way. Using our Paid Advertising Budget Template, you can keep tabs on your monthly (and quarterly) ad spending, and then cross-reference the amounts with your lead-generation metrics to determine your cost-per-lead.

excel budget template for paid advertising

5. Public Relations Budget Template

Download the Public Relations Budget Template here.

Public relations expenses amount to more than just paying for press releases. From reputation monitoring software, to traveling (e.g., to events and tradeshows), to applying for awards, there are many PR costs that can be all too easy to overlook.

To ensure you’re accounting for all of your organization’s PR-related expenses, check out our Public Relations Budget Template.

excel budget template for public relations

6. Branding & Creative Budget Template

Download the Creative Budget Template here.

In order to produce high-quality, innovative graphics, videos, and other content, the branding and creative teams of today need more than just Photoshop … a lot more. One of the largest — and often most overlooked — expenses is storage.

If your organization is producing a lot of video, storage is especially important. Because as it turns out, when budgeting for video storage, you shouldn’t be thinking on a megabyte (MB) or even a gigabyte (GB) scale, but on a terabyte (TB) scale. FYI: 1 terabyte = 1 trillion bytes. You can keep track of all your storage costs (and other branding and creative costs) using our free template.

excel budget template for branding and creative

7. Website Redesign Budget Template

Download the Website Redesign Budget Template here.

Budgeting for a website redesign can be seriously tricky. With so many moving pieces to consider, there is a lot of room for underestimating or miscalculating costs. We created our Website Redesign Budget Template so you can keep all of your redesign-related expenses in one convenient location.

Unsure if your current website is right for a redesign? Check out this HubSpot research report: Does Your Website Make the Grade? Chances Are, It’s Barely Passing.

excel budget template for website redesign

8. Event Budget Template

Download the Event Budget Template here.

When planning an event, the associated costs can seem obvious at first. There’s the venue to consider, of course. And the P.A. system and microphones. And then the costs associated with booking and bringing in presenters/performers. That’s pretty much it, right?

Wrong.

For example, does the venue come with tables/chairs, or will you have to rent those separately? Do you want your attendees to wear name tags, and if so, will you be printing out the name tags ahead of time or will attendees be writing their own names on blank tags? If the latter, have you factored in the pens or markers you’ll need to accommodate that? As you can see, planning for an event can lead you down many rabbit holes.

Use our Event Budget Template to stay organized.

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