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YoastCon 2019: Get your early bird ticket NOW!

YoastCon 2019 is going to be epic. On February 7 & 8, we’re hosting Europe’s best SEO and marketing conference in the Netherlands! It’ll take place in the Vereeniging in Nijmegen, just around the corner of our Yoast offices. Let me tell you all about our amazing speakers and the chock full schedule we’re currently working on. You do not want to miss this!

Buy your ticket before July 1 and get it for 449 euro instead of 499 euro.

Get your YoastCon early bird ticket nowOnly €449 (ex VAT) incl. exclusive gift

Speakers

We’re still working on our schedule, but we can already confirm some amazing speakers. Rand Fishkin (founder of Moz and Spaktoro) is going to keynote at YoastCon 2019. Els Aerts (of AG consult) and Purna Virji (of Microsoft) also promised to come as well. And what about Geraldine DeRuiter (of Everywhereist) and our very own Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson?

Hot of the press: Aleyda Solis (European Search Personality of 2018, founder of Orainti and blogger for Moz and Search Engine Land), will take the stage too! Get to know all YoastCon speakers.

Schedule

We want to give a stage to the very best of the SEO industry. We’ll have 9 awesome keynote speakers (two of which we’re currently persuading to come and speak for you!).

In addition to listening to these world-class keynote speakers, you can join in three rounds of practical workshops. We’ll offer workshops on the Yoast SEO plugin, site structure, keyword research, SEO copywriting and reviewing your own website. Workshops will be offered both in Dutch and English. Team Yoast will prepare and lead the workshops. As the groups will be small, you’ll have lots of opportunity to ask practical questions.YoastCon2019 schedule

Call for speakers

We still have room in our two-day schedule to fit even more awesome speakers! Are you an expert in the field of SEO, marketing, UX, copywriting or development? Let us know and apply to speak at YoastCon 2019. We’re looking for speakers to shine on our stage! Check out our call for speakers for more information.

Venue and ticket information

YoastCon will take place at ‘de Vereeniging’ in Nijmegen, a beautiful old venue nearby Nijmegen Central Station. Tickets are 499 euro – or 449 if you get them before July 1! – and include full access to all talks, three workshops, lunch on both days, coffee and drinks on Thursday night and Friday afternoon. We’ll make sure you’ll leave with lots of new ideas on how to improve your marketing and SEO strategy.

Get your YoastCon early bird ticket nowOnly €449 (ex VAT) incl. exclusive gift

More information?

Want to know more about YoastCon 2019? Read more about it on our YoastCon page. And, do not forget to check out our video impression of YoastCon 2017! That’ll get you in the perfect mood for the next YoastCon.

Make sure to buy your ticket before July 1 and profit from a 50 euro discount! And, make sure to reserve your hotelroom as well. Due to multiple events, hotel rooms are rather scarce during YoastCon. Don’t miss out and buy your tickets today!

See you at YoastCon!

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How to Make a Chart or Graph in Excel [With Video Tutorial]

Building charts and graphs is part of most people’s jobs — it’s one of the best ways to visualize data in a clear, easily digestible manner. (Check out this guide for making better charts to learn more.)

However, it’s no surprise that some people get a little bit intimidated by the prospect of poking around in Microsoft Excel. I actually adore Excel, but I work in Marketing Operations, so it’s pretty much a requirement.

Click here to download our collection of free Excel templates that will make  your life easier.

 

That’s why I thought I’d share a helpful video tutorial as well as some step-by-step instructions for anyone out there who cringes at the thought of organizing a spreadsheet full of data into a chart that actually, you know, means something. Here are the simple steps you need to build a chart or graph in Excel. And if you’re short on time, check out the video tutorial below.

Keep in mind there are many different versions of Excel, so what you see in the video above might not always match up exactly with what you’ll see in your version. In the instructions below, I used Excel 2017 version 16.9 for Max OS X.

We encourage you to follow along with the written instructions and demo data below (or download them as PDFs using the links below) so you can follow along. Most of the buttons and functions you’ll see and read are very similar across all versions of Excel.

Download Demo Data | Download Instructions (Mac) | Download Instructions (PC)

9-Excel-Marketing-Templates-

 

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1. Enter your data into Excel.

First, you need to input your data into Excel. You might have exported the data from elsewhere, like a piece of marketing software or a survey tool. Or maybe you’re inputting it manually.

In the example below, in Column A, I have a list of responses to the question, “Did inbound marketing demonstrate ROI?”, and in Columns B,C, and D, I have the responses to the question, “Does your company have a formal sales-marketing agreement?” For example, Column C, Row 2 illustrates that 49% of people who have an SLA (service level agreement) also say that inbound marketing demonstrated ROI.

Chart data about inbound marketing ROI entered into an Excel spreadsheet

2. Choose one of nine graph and chart options to create.

In Excel, you have plenty of choices for charts and graphs to create. This includes column (or bar) graphs, line graphs, pie graphs, scatter plot, and more. See how Excel identifies each one in the top navigation bar, as depicted below:

Icons for each type of graph and chart in Excel

(For help figuring out which type of chart/graph is best for visualizing your data, check out our free ebook, How to Use Data Visualization to Win Over Your Audience.)

3. Highlight your data and ‘Insert’ your desired graph.

The data I’m working with will look best in a bar graph, so let’s make that one. To make a bar graph, highlight the data and include the titles of the X and Y axis. Then, go to the ‘Insert‘ tab, and in the charts section, click the column icon. Choose the graph you wish from the dropdown window that appears.

Insert and Column icons for making a chart in Excel

In this example, I picked the first 2-dimensional column option — just because I prefer the flat bar graphic over the 3-D look. See the resulting bar graph below.

2-dimensional column chart created from Excel data on inbound marketing ROI

4. Switch the data on each axis, if necessary.

If you want to switch what appears on the X and Y axis, right-click on the bar graph, click ‘Select Data,’ and click ‘Switch Row/Column.’ This will rearrange which axes carry which pieces of data in the list shown below. When you’re finished, click ‘OK’ at the bottom.

Select Data window for switching rows/columns in Excel graph

The resulting graph would look like this:

Switching axes in Excel graph

5. Adjust your data’s layout and colors.

To change the layout of the labeling and legend, click on the bar graph, then click the ‘Chart Design‘ tab. Here, you can choose which layout you prefer for the chart title, axis titles, and legend. In my example (shown below), I clicked on the option that displayed softer bar colors and legends below the chart.

Chart design options in Excel

To further format the legend, click on it to reveal the ‘Format Legend’ sidebar, as shown below. Here, you can change the fill color of the legend, which will in turn change the color of the columns themselves. To format other parts of your chart, click on them individually to reveal a corresponding Format window.

Format Legend window for adjusting chart labels in Excel

6. Change the size of your chart’s legend and axis labels.

When you first make a graph in Excel, the size of your axis and legend labels might be a bit small, depending on the type of graph or chart you choose (bar, pie, line, etc.). Once you’ve created your chart, you’ll want to beef up those labels so they’re legible.

To increase the size of your graph’s labels, click on them individually and, instead of revealing a new Format window, click back into the ‘Home‘ tab in the top navigation bar of Excel. Then, use the font type and size dropdown fields to expand or shrink your chart’s legend and axis labels to your liking.

Increased size of legend labels in Excel chart

7. Change the Y axis measurement options, if desired.

To change the type of measurement shown on the Y axis, click on the Y axis percentages in your chart to reveal the ‘Format Axis‘ window. Here, you can decide if you want to display units located on the Axis Options tab, or if you want to change whether the Y axis shows percentages to 2 decimal places or to 0 decimal places.

Format Axis options window to increase percentages on Y axis

Because my graph automatically set the Y axis’s maximum percentage to 60%, I might want to change it manually to 100% to represent my data on a more universal scale. To do so, I can select the ‘Maximum‘ option — two fields down under ‘Bounds‘ in the Format Axis window — and change the value from 0.6 to 1.

The resulting graph would be changed to look like the one below (I increased the font size of the Y axis via the ‘Home’ tab, so you can see the difference):

Increased Maximum percentage on Excel bar graph's Y axis to 100%

8. Reorder your data, if desired.

To sort the data so the respondents’ answers appear in reverse order, right-click on your graph and click ‘Select Data’ to reveal the same options window you called up in Step 3 above. This time, click the up and down arrows, as shown below, to reverse the order of your data on the chart.

Reorder data options window in Excel

If you have more than two lines of data to adjust, you can also rearrange them in ascending or descending order. To do this, highlight all of your data in the cells above your chart, click ‘Data,’ and select ‘Sort,‘ as shown below. You can choose to sort based on smallest to largest or largest to smallest, depending on your preference.

Sort window in Excel

9. Title your graph.

Now comes the fun and easy part: naming your graph. By now, you might have already figured out how to do this. Here’s a simple clarifier.

Right after making your chart, the title that appears will likely be “Chart Title,” or something similar depending on the version of Excel you’re using. To change this label, click on “Chart Title” to reveal a typing cursor. You can then freely customize your chart’s title.

When you have a title you like, click ‘Home‘ on the top navigation bar, and use the font formatting options to give your title the emphasis it deserves. See these options and my final graph below:

Bar graph on inbound marketing ROI with bolded title

Pretty easy, right? Check out some additional resources below for additional help using Excel and visualizing your data in smart ways.

Additional Resources for Using Excel and Visualizing Data:

Want even more Excel tips? Check out this post on how to add a second axis to an Excel chart.

free excel templates for marketing

Basic SEO training / SEO for beginners: What’s the difference?

Yesterday, Yoast Academy released a new and improved Basic SEO course. But wait, didn’t Yoast release a free SEO for beginners course just a couple of months ago? Yes, we did. So what’s the difference? Doesn’t the SEO for beginners training also cover the basics? Why should you pay for access to the Basic SEO course if you can get all the good stuff for free? Great questions. I’ll tell you exactly what sets the two courses apart and why Basic SEO perfectly complements SEO for beginners. 

New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

Basic SEO training

Info

Get the New Basic SEO training Now$199 $169 (ex VAT) for course, certificate and badge

What is the key difference between the courses?

Essentially, the SEO for beginners training answers the “what is…” question, and the Basic SEO training answers the “how do I…” question. The free course is theoretical, the Basic SEO course is very practical.

In the SEO for beginners course, for instance, you learn what keywords and keyword research are. In the Basic SEO course, we give you a step-by-step plan for a good keyword research strategy. We also provide a screencast in which we show you exactly how to set up a keyword research sheet.

After completing the SEO for beginners training, you’ll have a clear idea of what every aspect of SEO is and what factors you should take into account. You’ll be able to make some minor changes which will positively affect your rankings. After completing the Basic SEO training, you’ll be able to immediately make a lot of changes to your website and set up a proper SEO strategy. It really is the best way to make sure your SEO efforts are effective!

Are there any other differences between the courses?

Basic SEO contains two more modules and several more lessons. We go into off-page SEO, site speed, conversion and more. SEO for beginners doesn’t cover these topics. In the table below, you can find a breakdown of the differences between the two courses.

Differences Basic SEO course versus free SEO for beginners course

For more information on the exact contents of the Basic SEO course, visit the product information page. There is no difference in the quality of the courses (besides the fact that we’re trying to do better each time we develop a new training, of course). We value our free products as highly as our paid products.

Does the Basic SEO course offer enough exclusive material to justify the cost?

There are 20 new videos, exclusive to the Basic SEO course, as well as fresh reading materials and quizzes. That’s more than most of our other courses have! So you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. Of course, much of the SEO beginners training is great information to work up towards the practical tips in the Basic SEO training. Actually, we’ve added all the relevant materials you find in the SEO for beginners course to the Basic SEO course as well, so you can also take the Basic SEO course if you’re just a beginner.

But isn’t it annoying to have to take those lessons again? Don’t worry, we’ve solved this problem. If you’ve already finished the SEO for beginners course, the lessons you’ve already taken will automatically be completed in your Basic SEO course, as well. You don’t have to take these lessons again.

Conclusion

The Basic SEO course is essential for everyone who wants to get started on optimizing every aspect of their SEO. After taking this training, you’ll have an entirely new set of tools to start optimizing your rankings immediately. It perfectly complements the SEO for beginners training, too. If you’ve already taken the SEO for beginners course, that’s not a problem at all. It’s an advantage!

Get the New Basic SEO training Now$199 $169 (ex VAT) for course, certificate and badge

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Will We Use Big Data to Solve Big Problems? Why Emerging Technology is at a Crossroads

A couple days ago, my girlfriend and I had a debate (let’s call it a discussion) about caffeine.

I read that it decreases your appetite. She disagreed, saying that caffeine actually increases our urge to raid the fridge.

Who’s right?

It depends not only who you ask, but how.

This will sound obvious, but the way you phrase a Google search directly affects your results.

A question like, “does caffeine increase appetite” will boost the number of hits that link caffeine and hunger. The opposite is true if you include words like “decrease” or “suppress.”

Typing “how does caffeine affect appetite” or “caffeine and appetite” is your best shot at uncovering the truth — or at least what most researchers now understand to be true.

Our conversation highlights the fact that search engines aren’t objective. They’re tools designed for human use, and people are always influenced by their own beliefs, biases and experiences.

It’s easy to see how our worldview can sway familiar tools, like search engines, but the connection gets trickier — and more important — when we look at emerging technologies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have now given ordinary citizens (i.e. those who aren’t necessarily rich or powerful) a disproportionate ability to influence people’s hearts and minds on a major scale.

We’re at a critical point in history, where we can collectively choose to use this technology for good, or to exploit people’s biases and belief systems.

A Spectrum of Opportunity

These are the early days of data science and machine learning. As both individuals and organizations start to experiment with emerging technologies, there’s a full spectrum of applications.

Atone end of the spectrum (let’s call it the far right), there’s the 2016 U.S. election. Almost two years later, we’re still learning how the Trump campaign used psychographic profiles to motivate voters.

Analyzing massive data sets enabled Trump’s team to create targeted Facebook ads, which reinforced some voters’ political and cultural beliefs. Many people see this as a misuse of increasingly powerful technologies.

Groups like DataKind live at the other end of the continuum. This data science community works with social change organizations to tackle challenges across education, poverty, health, human rights, cities, and the environment.

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Most applications land right in the middle. Companies are learning how to use data and machine learning for capitalistic gains.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, most companies are incentivized to make as much money as possible to serve their employees, stakeholder, and/or founders.
Data-enabled capitalism feels darker when companies use social platforms to pursue vulnerable people; to spread unhappiness.

We’ve always had advertising, but the niche targeting and sheer volume of data we encounter online is killing our attention spans. It’s also fuelling the need for instant gratification.

I lead the HubSpot team that’s building GrowthBot — a chatbot for marketing and sales. As you may know, a bot is an automated computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users.

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It uses AI (a computer system that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence) to process data. GrowthBot integrates with over a dozen systems and APIs to help people accomplish more with less distraction.

Are we using GrowthBot to make money? Yes. HubSpot is a for-profit business. At the same time, we’re building this technology to help people regain their focus.
Everyone is overwhelmed with noise and data. Our bot works behind the scenes to conduct research, connect accounts, pull files and perform routine tasks, so users experience that elusive state of flow.

The Backlash Against Big Data

As technology leaps forward, there’s a growing backlash against machine learning. Some people think AI will be humanity’s downfall. Others are afraid it will replace their jobs.

I understand. We’ve all watched technology overhaul industries ranging from auto manufacturing to entertainment.

Yet, there are essential differences between people and machines.
Computers excel at processing, storing and explaining data and information.
Humans have the unique ability to develop insights, review data, determine next steps, and think creatively.

Computers can’t have “ah-ha” moments or come up with insights, just as humans will always struggle to store and process large amounts of data.

We can make the same distinctions about AI and algorithms. If you’re concerned about how they influence behavior, let’s clear up a common misconception: technology alone can’t change people’s hearts and minds.

Instead, it enables motivated groups (like the Trump campaign) to identify and potentially exploit our biases. Everything we share, search, like, and post online creates a comprehensive profile of who we are and what we believe.

Combine that with our social graph — the online networks we create and nurture — and data science can make surprisingly accurate conclusions about our deepest psychology.

For example, data scientists can predict (with a high degree of accuracy), whether someone believes in climate change, based on their support for the National Rifle Association (NRA).

How can we get smarter about machine learning?

As I said earlier, we’ve reached an important crossroads. Will we use new technologies to improve life for everyone, or to fuel the agendas of powerful people and organizations?

I certainly hope it’s the former. Few of us will run for president or lead a social media empire, but we can all help to move the needle.

Consume information with a critical eye.

Most people won’t stop using Facebook, Google, or social media platforms, so proceed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Remember that the internet can never be objective. Ask questions and come to your own conclusions.

Get your headlines from professional journalists.

Seek credible outlets for news about local, national and world events. I rely on the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. You can pick your own sources, but don’t trust that the “article” your Aunt Marge just posted on Facebook is legit.

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Search with open-ended questions.

Researchers have found that caffeine does not typically increase hunger. My girlfriend is usually right, but I guess it was my turn to win this debate. Bottom line: try to use the internet as objectively as possible. Use neutral words and open-ended questions. Don’t encourage biased links with your language.

Educate kids about online subjectivity.

Online literacy is increasingly critical. Kids of all ages (and even many seniors) need to understand how to do open-ended searches, how to vet information sources, and how to think more critically about what they see online.

Think beyond profits.

Maybe you’re a business owner who’s trying to integrate machine learning, bots or big data into your offering. Or, you’re a tech founder who’s actively working with AI. In either case, you have the opportunity to help us make new technologies more ethical, equitable and productive.

Look at text analysis software. We could be using this technology to analyze ancient history and learn how people evolved. Instead, we’re trying to correct grammar editors and suggest sales copy that converts browsers into buyers.

Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with those applications. They’re probably not hurting anyone. They could, however, move our world forward. Text analysis could help to crack the code on tricky social challenges.

If you have an opportunity to add value and enrich lives, make it happen. Do what you can to use data for good.

We’re All in it Together

Please know that I’m not giving myself or my company a pass here. I know that GrowthBot won’t cure cancer. But, we are working to help people focus, accomplish more, and realize their own genius.

If we can help a cancer researcher to stay deep in their work and discover new insights, for example, then we have achieved our goal.

AI and machine learning are still in their infancy. That’s why this moment is so critical. We can all influence how new technologies evolve. We can manage our own consumption and lobby to see big data used for constructive pursuits.

Learn what you can and watch what’s happening in politics, business, and in your own sphere of influence. Stay informed. I know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or disillusioned, but we can’t afford to check out. We need your voice. We need your ideas.

Careful, YouTube: Facebook and Instagram Might Be Coming for You

Facebook and Instagram are looking to become destination video sites — or, at least, it’s looking that way.

This month, both social networks announced new video initiatives and features that cater towards content creators and offer new ways for users to interact with the sites.

Earlier in June, Facebook announced it would launch funded news shows within Facebook Watch, which is the site’s video service that features original programming, both pre-recorded and live. 

Then, on Tuesday, it unveiled a slew of new services for video creators and their audiences. Live videos will now be even more interactive, with new native features like real-time polling and game-show-style Q&A filters. The next day, Instagram — which is owned by Facebook — revealed IGTV: “a new app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favorite Instagram creators.”

While IGTV does have its own, separate app, it’s also available in the core Instagram app on iOS and Android operating systems. You’ll have to download the latest version of Instagram — I had to restart the app twice before the in-app version appeared — where you’ll see a small TV icon in the top-right corner, next to the direct message icon.

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Video is, unquestionably, one of the most popular forms of content consumption online today. In January, when Facebook announced a major algorithm change to shift focus to content from friends and family, it stated that live video, specifically, receives 6X the engagement as pre-recorded video — which could explain this new emphasis on real-time interaction with creators. More engagement tends to lead toward more time spent on the site, which is good news for Facebook.

But many questions arise from these latest features — for Facebook and Instagram alike — in regards to their respective endgames, the benefits to creators, and the possibility of new problems as a result.

Facebook and Instagram Are the New TV

The Question of YouTube

The emphasis on video makes sense for both Facebook and Instagram, given the aforementioned statistics about live video, for instance. But it’s also a reflection of evolving user behavior. 

In 2019, Zenith predicts, internet use will outpace time spent watching TV worldwide — by about 0.27%. And while that might seem like a trivial difference, it happened fairly quickly.

Which brings up the idea of filling that time spent online with original video content. While TV, for many, is still a destination — for the first time, there are multiple options for viewing it through means other than cable, and after it originally aired, usually through online platforms (read: Hulu, YouTube Live, and clips on the YouTube pages of networks or TV shows).

That repositions these digital platforms as destinations where TV used to be in their respective places. That’s certainly what happened to YouTube, which remains a — if not the — top platform for video consumption.

Consider this: YouTube boasts 1.8 billion users signed in each month — and while nothing to scoff at, Netflix’s 125 million streaming subscribers pales in comparison.

Among its boasting points, YouTube ranks as a major search engine in its own right. It’s owned by Google, and many users discover content by way of YouTube search — so much so, that search is a key element in the lesson on discovery within the platform’s Creator Academy.

 

 

Which leads to another one of YouTube’s boasting points: its relationship with creators. The video platform consistently emphasizes its value as a resource to content creators, including the aforementioned Academy, as well as its “invest[ment] in creators” that it uses as a key statistic in press materials.

Now, let’s go back to those user statistics. Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users — which was revealed alongside the IGTV announcement — and Facebook has 2.2 billion. With a new investment in creators, both networks have something to gain, and it could have an edge on YouTube.

Both already have their own search features, which Instagram has used as a discoverability feature, too — something that it’s emphasizing with IGTV, which automatically plays videos the app thinks you’ll like as soon as you open it.

Among those videos, users can choose to follow different “channels,” or accounts from whom they’d like to see more content. But many of these channels and the creators behind them will be creating long-form video, including regular series, which online personality Lele Pons says she’ll be developing for IGTV.

“Youtube viewing has typically been a pretty deliberate form of consumption. You go to YouTube and actively search for the content you want,” says HubSpot VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson. “Sure, there is some related and recommended content discovery, but the active search is still there.”

“That doesn’t really exist on Instagram in the same way yet, where a lot of viewing, to date, has been pretty passive, particularly with the user interface of stories,” Keaney Anderson continues.”I’m curious if their approaches begin to merge, or if Instagram stays as more of a passive feed over time.”

That passive consumption is key in Instagram eventually winning in the area of what HubSpot Product Lead Daria Marmer calls “filling your ‘bored time.'” 

“If you don’t have videos on Instagram, then you might bounce to YouTube for that content,” Marmer explains. “Having videos right there keeps users in the walled garden.”

The Benefits to Creators

Pons — the aforementioned creator who says she’ll be developing a cooking show for IGTV — also says she won’t be receiving any payment for it. It raises the question: What’s in it for creators?

Of course, there is the element of discoverability, for which most content can be optimized in one way or another — and optimizing for IGTV could soon become a new strategy for creators. But what is the source of monetization?

With discoverability comes following — and with a vast following come brand interest, which is what built the influencer phenomenon (which is now becoming increasingly frowned upon by certain companies). But even so, the interest from brands hasn’t and likely won’t disappear entirely, which is why Marmer says these creators — who Instagram and Facebook are trying to win over from the likes of YouTube, it seems — “are going to be influencers, who are paid by brands, rather than the platform.”

But becoming an influencer is not a quick outcome for those who seek it, which circles back to the question of benefits to creators hoping to best leverage these newer video platforms.

“We’ve seen creators leave platforms before in favor of those that provide revenue models, so I imagine payment is on Instagram’s mind,” Keaney Anderson says. “Discovery might be enough for fledgling creators, but sustaining those who carry an audience will require a rev-share of some sort. The historical models we can’t seem to quit are advertising and subscription, but I always hope for something more imaginative as both come with trade-offs for user experience.”

That seems to be one thing that Facebook is trying to accomplish with its new interactive features for Live video, as well as its new Watch program in general. In the new features it revealed earlier this week, Facebook also announced that publishers and video creators would have access to its “Ad Breaks program,” which essentially allows those who produce longer-form video content to incorporate commercial breaks.

It’s not clear if Facebook will earn a portion of whatever ad revenue results from these commercial breaks, but considering how much of the company’s income is rooted in ads, its likely it will keep a percentage.

New Vulnerabilities

One thing that most social networks (and even search giants like Google) have in common is higher-than-ever scrutiny for platform abuse.

Facebook has been investigated and questioned more than others, especially in light of this year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as the weaponization of the platform to spread false, divisive content to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Just today, for instance, the company published new insights into how it’s allegedly working to combat the spread of fake news on the site.

But Facebook is hardly alone in the false content epidemic. YouTube, for all its benefits and leading points, has also come under fire for content shared on its site from a similar origin, and with the same divisive purpose as the kind that was used to weaponize Facebook. 

There’s also the issue of hate speech, bullying, and generally abusive comments appearing on the sites, which most content platforms are struggling to address in a sustainable way. Facebook even went so far as to publish its internal content review policies for public consumption, but it’s a large amount of material to get through and certain content censorship decisions are still widely misunderstood by users.

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Our survey of 300 U.S. internet users indicates that 34% have experienced online abuse.

This issue arose at F8, where keynote speakers pointed to the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) to combat things like hate speech on the platform. This comes with its own issues, such as implicit biases that AI can pick up from the humans and machines that train it.

These new video platforms, depending on how interaction and engagement with their content will be moderated, carry the possibility of opening Facebook and Instagram to new vulnerabilities in these areas — the very ones that they say they are working to resolve.

To compound that, Instagram recently confirmed that it would soon launch a “time well spent” tool to help users determine — as the name suggests — how much time they’re spending on the app. And while the name also suggests that the feature is designed to help users modify the time they spend on Instagram, it would appear that these new video features and platforms have been introduced to, among other reasons, encourage more time spent using them.

The results remain to be seen, as do the respective networks’ progress in its efforts to combat this type of misuse.

Until then — here’s a peek of my experience with IGTV.

How to Write a Request for Proposal, with Template and Sample

Whether you’re working for a small agency or a major marketing firm, you’re probably eventually going to need to fill out a Request for Proposal, or RFP.

Your company can’t do everything internally, and when your business needs to purchase a product or service from elsewhere, you might need to shop around. An RFP allows you to collect offers from various vendors and select the vendor that best meets your criteria, both in regards to skill and budget.

Here, we’ve provided an RFP template you can follow for initial structure, as well as a sample RFP for further inspiration. But it isn’t one-size-fits-all — you’ll need to tailor your RFP to best articulate your company’s needs.

 

RFP Template:

Project Name or Description:

Company Name:

Address:

City, State, Zip Code:

Procurement Contact Person:

Telephone Number of PCP:

Email Address of PCP:

Fax Number:

 

1. Background/Introduction

2. Project Goals and Scope of Services

3. Anticipated Selection Schedule

4. Time and Place of Submission of Proposals

5. Timeline

6. Elements of Proposal

7. Evaluation Criteria

8. Possible Roadblocks

9. Budget

 

1. Background/Introduction

In your introductory paragraph, you’ll want to include useful background information about your company — who founded it, what product or service your company offers, what sets you apart from competitors, and where you’re located. If any vendor is serious about working with you, they’ll want this information before moving forward.

2. Project Goals and Scope of Services

Next, you’ll want to outline the project you need completed, and the goals you expect to accomplish from the project. It’s important you get as specific as possible — even outlining individual tasks and criteria involved. You’ll want to include phrases such as, “The award will be given to X firm”, with the “X” establishing how you’ll determine the best candidate.

3. Anticipated Selection Schedule

It’s crucial you include a detailed schedule, so vendors know if they can meet your deadlines. You’ll also need to give vendors a window for when they can ask questions regarding your project. This’ll limit the hassle, for you and for them.

4. Time and Place of Submission of Proposals

Similar to paragraph #3, this is important information you’ll want to clearly present, so vendors know how and where to submit themselves for consideration.

5. Timeline

By including a time frame in your RFP, you’re able to eliminate any vendor who can’t work within your time constraints. If you’re flexible on your time, you can write something like, “Our company hopes to finish the project within six months, but we’re open to negotiation for the right candidate.”

6. Elements of Proposal

If you don’t outline clearly and specifically what you expect bidders to include in their proposal, you can’t necessarily fault them if they don’t include it. It’s critical you outline a checklist so vendors know which elements you’re expecting to receive. It’s also a good test for who’s capable of handling your demands — if a vendor can’t complete all elements of your proposal, you probably can’t trust them to finish your project, either.

7. Evaluation Criteria

Outlining your expectations will help eliminate vendors who don’t meet them. For this section, you’ll want to do some brainstorming with your team to come up with a mandatory list of items you feel are the best indicators of impressive candidates. Your list could include samples of past work, a proven success record with companies in similar industries, the expertise and technical skills to meet your demands, and a cost of services within your price range.

8. Possible Roadblocks

Here, you’ll want to outline any roadblocks, such as limited resources or a custom website, that might prevent certain vendors from successfully completing the project. This allows you to eliminate unsatisfactory bidders, and it will also help you determine which vendors have the skills and expertise to tackle those challenges.

9. Budget

Any vendor needs to know how much you’re able to pay them for their services before they’ll move forward with their bid.

 

RFP Sample:

 

Project Name or Description: Marketing Services

Company Name: Caroline’s Websites, Inc.

Address: 302 Inbound Ave.

City, State, Zip Code: Boston, MA 29814

Procurement Contact Person: Caroline Forsey

Telephone Number of PCP: 227-124-2481

Email Address of PCP: cforsey@consulting.com

Fax Number: N/A

 

1. Background/Introduction

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. is a web design firm created by Caroline Forsey in 2010. Caroline’s Websites, Inc. prides itself on a team-oriented, solutions-based approach to web design. We provide our clients with web design services including coding, development, and branding. Our staff is located in two offices in Massachusetts.

2. Project Goals and Scope of Services

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. is seeking the services of a full-service communications and marketing firm to develop and execute a comprehensive integrated marketing plan that increases our SEO presence; attracts more social media followers; and effectively completes a lead generation campaign. The award will be made to a responsive and responsible firm based on the best value and professional capability.

The selected firm will be responsible for the development and implementation of a comprehensive and cost-effective marketing plan.

Tasks include but may not be limited to the following criteria:

• Lead generation campaign

• Paid media strategy

• Production of creative material including collateral and direct mail

• Online marketing campaign

• Website enhancement

• Search engine optimization

• General account management

• Other communications and/or marketing-related assistance as required

3. Anticipated Selection Schedule

The Request for Proposal timeline is as follows:

Request for RFP: June 1, 2018

Deadline for Bidders to Submit Questions: July 5, 2018

[Company Name] Responds to Bidder Questions: July 20, 2018

Selection of Top Bidders / Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders: July 31, 2018

Start of Negotiation: August 5, 2018

Contract Award / Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders: August 31, 2018

4. Time and Place of Submission of Proposals

The RFP will be posted on our website, Carolinewebsites.com, and can be downloaded from there directly as of 10 a.m. on June 1, 2018.

Respondents to this RFP must submit one original and five copies of their proposal. Responses must be received no later than July 25, 2018. Responses should be clearly marked “RFP-MarketingServices” and mailed or delivered to the contact person listed above.

5. Timeline

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. needs the project completed within 8 months.

6. Elements of Proposal

A submission must, at a minimum, include the following elements:

• Description of the firm that includes a general overview, names and credentials of creative team, number of full-time employees.

• A one-page narrative outlining the firm’s strengths and distinguishing skills or capabilities as they might relate to Caroline’s Websites, Inc.

• A representative selection of social media ads, direct response material, collateral, and website development created for current and past clients.

7. Evaluation Criteria

The successful respondent will:

• Have been operating continuously as a marketing agency for a minimum of 24 months and possess full-service, in-house capabilities for marketing, creative services, production, media planning and placement, direct response and research.

• The education, experience, knowledge, skills, and qualifications of the firm and the individuals who will be available to provide these services.

• The competitive cost of services.

• The expertise of the firm in working with similar customers.

8. Possible Roadblocks

At this time, Caroline’s Websites, Inc. currently has custom coding on our website, of which bidders should be aware.

9. Budget

Caroline’s Websites, Inc.’s budget for the project is $8,750.00.

The Goal-Based Approach to Domain Selection – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

Choosing a domain is a big deal, and there’s a lot that goes into it. Even with everything that goes into determining your URL, there are two essential questions to ask that ought to guide your decision-making: what are my goals, and what’s best for my users? In today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday, we’re beyond delighted to welcome Kameron Jenkins, our SEO Wordsmith, to the show to teach us all about how to select a domain that aligns with and supports your business goals.

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Goal-based Approach to Domain Selection

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Video Transcription

Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and I am the SEO Wordsmith here at Moz. Today we’re going to be talking about a goals-based approach to choosing a domain type or a domain selection.

There are a lot of questions in the SEO industry right now, and as an agency, I used to work at an agency, and a lot of times our clients would ask us, “Should I do a microsite? Should I do a subdomain? Should I consolidate all my sites?” There is a lot of confusion about the SEO impact of all of these different types of domain choices, and there certainly are SEO ramifications for each type, but today we’re going to be taking a slightly different approach and focusing on goals first. What are your business goals? What are your goals for your website? What are your goals for your users? And then choosing a domain that matches those goals. By the end, instead of what’s better for SEO, we’re going to hopefully have answered, “What best suits my unique goals?”

Before we start…define!

Before we start, let’s launch into some quick definitions just so we all kind of know what we’re talking about and why all the different terminology we’re going to be using.

Main domain

Main domain, this is often called a root domain in some cases. That’s anything that precedes your dot com or other TLD. So YourSite.com, it lives right before that.

Subdomain

A subdomain is a third-level domain name for your domain. So example, Blog.YourSite.com, that would be a subdomain.

Subfolder

A subfolder, or some people call this subdirectory, those are folders trailing the dot com. An example would be YourSite.com/blog. That /blog is the folder. That’s a subfolder.


Microsite

A microsite, there’s a lot of different terminology around this type of domain selection, but it’s just a completely separate domain from your main domain. The focus is usually a little bit more niche than the topic of your main website.

That would be YourSite1.com and YourSite2.com. They’re two totally, completely separate domains.

Business goals that can impact domain structure

Next we’re going to start talking about business goals that can impact domain structure. There are a lot of different business goals. You want to grow revenue. You want more customers. But we’re specifically here going to be talking about the types of business goals that can impact domain selection.

1. Expand locations/products/services

The first one here that we’re going to talk about is the business wants to expand their locations, their products, or their services. They want to grow. They want to expand in some way. An example I like to use is say this clothing store has two locations. They have two storefronts. They have one in Dallas and one in Fort Worth.

So they launch two websites — CoolClothesDallas.com and CoolClothesFortWorth.com. But the problem with that is if you want to grow, you’re going to open stores in Austin, Houston, etc. You’ve set the precedent that you’re going to have a different domain for every single location, which is not really future-proof. It’s hard to scale. Every time you launch a brand-new website, that’s a lot of work to launch it, a lot of work to maintain it.

So if you plan on growing and getting into new locations or products or services or whatever it might be, just make sure you select a domain structure that’s going to accommodate that. In particular, I would say a main root domain with subfolders for the different products or services you have is probably the best bet for that situation. So you have YourSite.com/Product1, /Product2, and you talk about it in that sense because it’s all related. It’s all the same topic. It’s more future-proof. It’s easier to add a page than it is to launch a whole new domain.

2. Set apart distinct facets of business

So another business goal that can affect your domain structure would be that the business wants to set apart distinct facets within their business. An example I found that was actually kind of helpful is Apple.com has a subdomain for Trailers.Apple.com.

Now, I’m not Apple. I don’t really know exactly why they do this, but I have to imagine that it was because there are very different intents and uses for those different types of content that live on the subdomain versus the main site. So Trailers has movie trailers, lots of different content, and Apple.com is talking more about their consumer products, more about that type of thing.

So the audiences are slightly different. The intents are very different. In that situation, if you have a situation like that and that matches what your business is encountering, you want to set it apart, it has a different audience, you might want to consider a subdomain or maybe even a microsite. Just keep in mind that it takes effort to maintain each domain that you launch.

So make sure you have the resources to do this. You could, if you didn’t have the resources, put it all on the main domain. But if you want a little bit more separation, the different aspects of your business are very disparate and you don’t want them really associated on the same domain, you could separate it out with a subdomain or a microsite. Just, again, make sure that you have the resources to maintain it, because while both have equal ability to rank, it’s the effort that increases with each new website you launch.

3. Differentiate uniquely branded sub-departments

Three, another goal is to differentiate uniquely branded sub-departments. There is a lot of this I’ve noticed in the healthcare space. So the sites that I’ve worked on, say they have Joe Smith Health, and this is the health system, the umbrella health system. Then within that you have Joe Smith Endocrinology.

Usually those types of situations they have completely different branding. They’re in a different location. They reach a different audience, a different community. So in those situations I’ve seen that, especially healthcare, they usually have the resources to launch and maintain a completely different domain for that uniquely branded sub-department, and that might make sense.

Again, make sure you have the resources. But if it’s very, very different, whether in branding or audience or intent, than the content that’s on your main website, then I might consider separating them. Another example of this is sometimes you have a parent company and they own a lot of different companies, but that’s about where the similarities stop.

They’re just only owned by the parent company. All the different subcompanies don’t have anything to do with each other. I would probably say it’s wisest to separate those into their own unique domains. They probably definitely have unique branding. They’re totally different companies. They’re just owned by the same company. In those situations it might make sense, again, to separate them, but just know that they’re not going to have any ranking benefit for each other because they’re just completely separate domains.

4. Temporary or seasonal campaigns

The fourth business goal we’re going to talk about is a temporary or a seasonal campaign. This one is not as common, but I figured I would just mention it. Sometimes a business will want to run a conference or sponsor an event or get a lot of media attention around some initiative that’s separate from what their business does or offers, and it’s just more of an events-based, seasonal type of thing.

In those situations it might make sense to do a microsite that’s completely branded for that event. It’s not necessary. For example, Moz has MozCon, and that’s located on subfolder Moz.com/MozCon. You don’t have to do that, but it certainly is an option for you if you want to uniquely brand it.

It can also be really good for press. I’ve noticed just in my experience, I don’t know if this is widely common, but sometimes the press tends to just link to the homepage because that’s what they know. They don’t link to a specific page on your site. They don’t know always where it’s located. It’s just easier to link to the main domain. If you want to build links specifically for this event that are really relevant, you might want to do a microsite or something like that.

Just make sure that when the event is over, don’t just let it float out there and die. Especially if you build links and attention around it, make sure you 301 that back to your main website as long as that makes sense. So temporary or seasonal campaigns, that could be the way to go — microsite, subfolder. You have some options there.

5. Test out a new agency or consultant

Then finally the last goal we’re going to be talking about that could impact domain structure is testing out a new agency or consultant.

Now this one holds a special place in my heart having worked for an agency prior to this for almost seven years. It’s actually really common, and I can empathize with businesses who are in this situation. They are about to hand over their keys to their domain to a brand-new company. They don’t quite know if they trust them yet.

Especially this is concerning if a business has a really strong domain that they’ve built up over time. It can be really scary to just let someone take over your domain. In some cases I have encountered, the business goes, “Hey, we’d love to test you out. We think you’re great.However, you can’t touch the main domain.You have to do your SEO somewhere else.” That’s okay, but we’re kind of handcuffed in that situation.

You would have to, at that point, use a subdomain or a microsite, just a completely different website. If you can’t touch the main domain, you don’t really have many other options than that. You just have to launch on a brand-new thing. In that situation, it’s a little frustrating, actually quite frustrating for SEOs because they’re starting from nothing.

They have no authority inherited from that main domain. They’re starting from square one. They have to build that up over time. While that’s possible, just know that it kind of sets you back. You’re way behind the starting line in that situation with using a subdomain or a microsite, not being able to touch that main domain.

If you find yourself in this situation and you can negotiate this, just make sure that the company that’s hiring you is giving you enough time to prove the value of SEO. This is tried-and-true for a reason, but SEO is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. It’s not pay to play like paid advertising is. In that situation, just make sure that whoever is hiring you is giving you enough time.

Enough time is kind of dependent on how competitive the goals are. If they’re asking you, “Hey, I’m going to test you out for this really, really competitive, high-volume keyword or group of keywords and you only have one month to do it,” you’re kind of set up to fail in that situation. Either ask them for more time, or I probably wouldn’t take that job. So testing out a new agency or consultant is definitely something that can impact your ability to launch on one domain type versus another.

Pitfalls!

Now that we’ve talked about all of those, I’m just going to wrap up with some pitfalls. A lot of these are going to be repeat, but just as a way of review just watch out for these things.

Failing to future-proof

Like I said earlier, if you’re planning on growing in the future, just make sure that your domain matches your future plans.

Exact-match domains

There’s nothing inherently wrong with exact-match domains. It’s just that you can’t expect to launch a microsite with a bunch of keywords that are relevant to your business in your domain and just set it and forget it and hope that the keywords in the domain alone are what’s going to get it to rank. That doesn’t work anymore. It’s not worked for a while. You have to actually proactively be adding value to that microsite.

Maybe you’ve decided that that makes sense for your business. That’s great. Just make sure that you put in the resources to make it valuable outside of just the keywords in the domain.

Over-fragmenting

One thing I like to say is, “Would you rather have 3 websites with 10 backlinks each, or 1 website with 30 backlinks?” That’s just a way to illustrate that if you don’t have the resources to equally dedicate to each of those domains or subdomains or microsites or whatever you decided to launch, it’s not going to be as strong.

Usually what I see when I evaluate a customer or a client’s domain structure, usually there is one standout domain that has all of the content, all of the authority, all of the backlinks, and then the other ones just kind of suffer and they’re usually stronger together than they are apart. So while it is totally possible to do separate websites, just make sure that you don’t fragment so much that you’re spread too thin to actually do anything effective on the SEO front.

Ignoring user experience

Look at your websites from the eyes of your users. If someone is going to go to the search results page and Google search your business name, are they going to see five websites there? That’s kind of confusing unless they’re very differently branded, different intents. They’ll probably be confused.

Like, “Is this where I go to contact your business? How about this? Is it this?” There are just a lot of different ways that can cause confusion, so just keep that in mind. Also if you have a website where you’re addressing two completely different audiences within your website — if a consumer, for example, can be browsing blouses and then somehow end up accidentally on a section that’s only for employees — that’s a little confusing for user experience.

Make sure you either gate that or make it a subdomain or a microsite. Just separate them if that would be confusing for your main user base.

Set it and forget it

Like I said, I keep repeating this just because it’s so, so important. Every type of domain has equal ability to rank. It really does.

It’s just the effort that gets harder and harder with each new website. Just make sure that you don’t just decide to do microsites and subdomains and then don’t do anything with them. That can be a totally fine choice. Just make sure that you don’t set it and forget it, that you actually have the resources and you have the ability to keep building those up.

Intent overlap between domains

The last one I’ll talk about in the pitfall department is intent overlap between domains.

I see this one actually kind of a lot. It can be like a winery. So they have tastings.winery.com or something like that. In that situation, their Tasting subdomain talks all about their wine tasting, their tasting room. It’s very focused on that niche of their business. But then on Winery.com they also have extensive content about tastings. Well, you’ve got overlap there, and you’re kind of making yourself do more work than you have to.

I would choose one or the other and not both. Just make sure that there’s no overlap there if you do choose to do separate domains, subdomains, microsites, that kind of thing. Make sure that there’s no overlap and each of them has a distinct purpose.

Two important questions to focus on:

Now that we’re to the end of this, I really want the takeaway to be these two questions. I think this will make domain selection a lot easier when you focus on these two questions.

What am I trying to accomplish? What are the goals? What am I trying to do? Just focus on that first. Then second of all, and probably most important, what is best for my users? So focus on your goals, focus on your users, and I think the domain selection process will be a lot easier. It’s not easy by any means.

There are some very complicated situations, but I think, in the end, it’s going to be a lot easier if you focus on your goals and your users. If you have any comments regarding domain selection that you think would be helpful for others to know, please share it in the comments below. That’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday, and come back next week for another one. Thanks everybody.

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