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How to create long-form content that ranks, gets read and converts

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Creating in-depth content is time-consuming and resource-intensive. Here’s a guide to ensure your long-form content efforts pay off.

There are many questions about content length in SEO and what ranks the best. 

While Google says there’s no specific word count they recommend, some studies have shown that long-form content tends to rank higher than short-form.

If you’re interested in writing long-form content, you probably want to make sure it’s going to rank, get read, and convert so you create an ROI for your effort.

What is long-form content? 

Most consider long-form content to be over 1,000 words. It’s a content piece that goes in-depth, offers extra value for the reader and includes more research, insights, and information than a quick read. 

Long-form content should leave the reader feeling comfortable with the subject and as if their questions have been answered and they know what to do with the information or how it applies to them.

What should you include in long-form content?

You want to create content that helps your reader. Think about them and what they need or want to learn from this piece. What questions do they have? 

It’s your responsibility to anticipate their questions and answer them in your work. If you’re unsure what questions they have, then think about what you want to ensure they know.

Use the following guide questions to identify which information is most important to help them get to the next stage:

  • What do they need to know?
  • Why do they need to know it?
  • What can they do with the information?
  • What baseline information should they know to make this make more sense?
  • What if they don’t have that baseline knowledge already?
  • How does this information impact them?
  • What’s their next step?

Don’t write a bunch of unnecessary fluff to try to hit some word count. 

You must ensure you’re providing value and helping your ideal customer so they want to consume more of your content. 

If you get them to the site but find nothing of value, they’ll be less likely to stay or return another time. 

Write to tell a story and provide value rather than writing to an arbitrary word count. Your content will be better in the long run.

Where do you start when creating long-form content to rank, get read and convert?

To start, make sure there’s a conversion path for your reader. Your content pieces need to tie to your products or services to drive revenue and conversions.

If you’re answering questions for your potential customer and providing helpful information, they’re more likely to convert if you offer a solution to their issues. Be helpful, and link to additional information that might help them move to the next step.

If you have an opt-in that ties to this content piece and is the next step for them, offer it in your work. You’re helping them and building your email list at the same time.

If you want your content to convert, you need to make sure there’s a conversion path. Everything you write needs to somehow tie to your core products and services.

I teach my students to choose content pillars that link to their products and services and write about topics related to those subjects.

Creating a long-form content piece and ranking at the top of Google is great, but if it drives irrelevant traffic, it won’t convert, and that’s a waste of your efforts.

How do you make sure your long-form content ranks?

We all know we have no control over the Google ranking algorithm, but we also know how it works and what’s most important from an optimization standpoint.  

First, verify there’s search demand for your topic idea, choose a keyword (or keywords) you can rank for, write for your audience, and finally, optimize your content piece.

Make sure there’s interest in your topic

Start by making sure there’s an audience for your content piece. 

It may seem like a great idea to you. However, if no one is searching for information on the subject, it’s unlikely that you’ll get much traffic due to low demand. 

That said, search volume is not the most critical factor in choosing a keyword, and we’ll talk more about that.

Brainstorm the topics you think you want to cover, and then go to Google and see what’s there today. 

  • Who’s written on the subject you’re considering using for your content piece? 
  • Is there already information on the topic? 
  • Do you have a new angle, new insights, or something more to add to the conversation? 

If not, this might not be the best topic. Search the topic and see what shows up in Google Suggested Search.

Is there something closely related to your topic that Google suggests, or are there questions related to it in the People Also Ask section? 

If you see your topic idea in either of those places, that’s good because it means there’s interest in your potential topic.

Research keywords

Once you know your topic is viable, use your favorite keyword research tool to identify the keyword or keywords you want to target for this new long-form content piece. 

Long-form pieces can rank for multiple keywords a bit easier than short-form pieces just due to the length of the content piece. 

Choose your keywords wisely. Look for a primary keyword with good search volume and the ability for your website to rank on Page 1.

Choose your keywords

Go to Google and see who’s currently ranking on Page 1 for the keyword you’re considering using as your primary one. 

  • Are the websites similar to yours? 
  • Are they more prominent brands or companies? 
  • How in-depth are the articles? 
  • Can you provide additional insight or value (not just more words) than the sites currently ranking?

If you see other websites similar to yours and content pieces that you feel aren’t as in-depth or are missing information on the topic you want to write about, then you’re probably making a good choice in your keyword selection.

Choose the keyword with the highest search volume that your website has the best chance of ranking for and is the word your Ideal Customer uses when searching for information on this subject.

How to make sure your content gets read

Now it’s time to write. Go back to your brainstorming notes. 

What information do you need to include to answer your readers’ questions?

Be sure you have that information. Sort it in a way that it’s easy to follow and understand so your reader wants to continue. 

A long-form content piece is a time commitment for someone to read.

Thus, you must provide value, insights, statistics, and things that are unique from something else they might have read on the subject before – or they won’t continue reading.

Format your piece in a reader-friendly way. This is especially important with longer pieces. Consider:

  • Using bullets and lists – white space is your friend.
  • Using headers (suitable for SEO and your reader). 
  • Breaking your text up into small, easy-to-read chunks. 
  • Keeping your sentences and paragraphs short.

It’s better to have many small paragraphs broken up with bullets and numbers than big blocks of text. 

People will shy away from reading a piece if the content isn’t formatted in a reader-friendly way.

Your final step is to optimize your content piece

Use your keyword in all of your SEO elements. Make sure it’s in the first paragraph of the copy, which it should be since your keyword is closely tied to your content topic. In most instances, your keyword will be in the title of your piece.

Add your keyword to your URL, image file name, and header tags, and use it throughout your copy. 

Focus on providing value, being helpful, and offering information your ideal customer needs rather than how often you use your keyword. You’ll use it naturally by concentrating on your reader.

Done right, long-form content is worth the investment

Long-form content can be a significant time investment. It takes longer to write in-depth pieces than quick bites or short-form. 

However, the payoffs can be great. Long-form pieces often rank higher in the search results than short pieces. 

And if you’re creating content with an audience, you can rank for and tie to your business, bring relevant traffic to your website, and hopefully, get the conversion. 

It’s worth testing long-form content if you haven’t done it yet. Not every piece you write has to be long, but those most important to your business should be longer and more in-depth.

If you are interested in original article by Rachel Lindteigen you can find it here

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Marketing To Gen Z: How To Do It The Right Way

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Want to deliver great marketing strategies and tactics that activate your Gen Z audience? Here’s the why, what and how of marketing to Gen Z.

For the longest time, the most frequent question I was asked was, “How do we reach millennials with marketing?”

Now, the wheels are turning, and the primary goal of many marketers is to reach a new, content-hungry generation of consumers. And the question is: how do we target our marketing to Gen Z?

Gen Z, or “Zoomers,” is a pretty unique group of young adults and teens.

For one, they have never known life without the internet.

For another, they bring tremendous spending power to the table.

Interested now?

Let’s take a look at how we can use available research, surveys, and data to improve our marketing strategies and campaigns in order to resonate with the next biggest generation: Gen Z.

Is Gen Z Hard To Market?

Typically, businesses want to reach the largest audience for the best return, right?

Well, Millennials might be the current largest group of consumers, and Baby Boomers have the most money to spend, but Gen Z’s power is growing.

A recent Bloomberg report shows that these young students and working professionals have $360 billion in disposable income.

This figure is only going to increase.

Marketers are wrestling with the best ways to market to Gen Z so that they can get them to buy, as traditional marketing methods aren’t working.

However, this is proving tricky, as Gen Z gives attention and spends money differently from previous generations.

What Is Generation Z?

Gen Z is the collective of people born between 1997 to 2012. That makes the oldest in this generation in their mid-twenties and the youngest about to become a tween this year.

The next generation after Gen Z is called Generation Alpha.

Zoomers are truly digitally native. They’ve been online since childhood, using the internet, mobile phones, social networks, and even shopping from a young age.

Super comfortable with research and data collection, they have no problem switching from online to offline universes.

They are also the most educated generation yet.

How Is Marketing To Gen Z Different Than Other Generations?

Well, they differ quite a bit, actually.

First, we need to understand what matters most to each generation.

This is often formed by the big events that happened in their formative years.

For example, while status is the most important for Gen Xers (born 1960–79), Millennials (born 1980–94) are all about authentic experiences.

So, what matters most for Generation Z?

According to research from McKinsey, the main driver for this generation is the search for truth.

Once marketers understand that Gen Z is very comfortable searching for information and cross-referencing data sources in their quest for truth, they will understand what content to produce to reach them.

A Few Extra Insights Into Gen Z’ers

Zoomers Are Loyal

That’s right! They are not as fickle and easily swayed as we first thought.

In fact, a report by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the National Retail Federation revealed some interesting trends around Gen Z and brand affinity.

  • 59% of respondents say they trust the brands they’ve grown up with.
  • 46% of Zoomers cited having “a strong connection or loyalty” to a brand.
  • 66% stick to buying from a favorite brand for a long time.

This shows that they want to – and can quite capably – build and keep relationships with the brands they connect with.

For this reason, it is so important for brands to foster their Gen Z customer base.

Zoomers Influence The Whole Family

This is true simply because the majority of Gen Z’ers are not yet fully independent adults and still live with their parents.

However, they do generate an income and influence how the family spends, particularly food and beverages (77%), furniture (76%), household goods (73%), travel (66%), and eating out (63%).

11 Strategies To Market To Gen Z

No matter what generation you are marketing to, you need to understand who your ideal customer is.

You can’t simply say, “We market to Generation Z,” and that is that.

You need to do the work to deeply understand who your target audience is: what their challenges are, what they enjoy doing, what they like, what repulses them, and, more importantly, what they expect of you.

So, this is the first step in marketing to Gen Z: Get to know your audience.

However, that is true for all generations, and not just Gen Z marketing strategies, which is not what this piece is about. We want to explore how brands can reach Gen Z in particular.

The best way to reach them is on social media and to align yourself with their progressive approach to life. Here’s how.

1. Create Channel-Specific Content

By this, I mean there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to multi-channel marketing.

Marketers often replicate one campaign and burst it across multiple channels.

But there is a better way.

Create content that you share on TikTok with the TikTok audience in mind. The same for LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TV, etc.

These audiences are not even remotely the same.

In fact, Generation Z prefers brands that know how to use each social media platform uniquely, just as they do.

For example:

  • Instagram for aspirational posts.
  • Snapchat for everyday moments.
  • TikTok for fun and trending challenges.
  • Twitter for news.
  • LinkedIn for career-focused content.

You need to fit in with the online social community you are posting on if you want your paid or organic content to be a success.

2. Keep It Short

Tailor content that caters to a brief attention span.

Generation Z enjoys platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram that favor short videos.

Also, remember to make content that is mobile-optimized.

3. Use Video – A Lot

This point follows from the previous one.

This mobile-first generation devours video on their smartphones.

While this is no secret, it is tremendously effective for reaching this generation that grew up on YouTube and now TikTok.

4. Champion Authenticity

It is of vital importance that your brand tone, voice, and personality exude authenticity and credibility.

Show the people and values behind the brand.

Invest in building long-lasting relationships.

Why? Generation Z prefers brands that are authentic. Also fun.

Use bloopers, behind-the-scenes videos, interviews with staff, and anything that can help foster a human connection.

Consider how most TikTok videos are filmed on personal devices rather than expensive gear or carefully produced videos.

Even if your budget is huge, you still need to keep it real.

5. Be Transparent And Accountable

This is because Zoomers are after the truth, remember?

So, your brand’s credibility is really important to this generation of consumers.

The great news is that if you do make a mistake, they have open arms for you when you take responsibility, are transparent, and are accountable to change.

6. Go To The Influencer

I know you know this.

But I want to suggest a slightly different approach.

Rather than just paying the influencer as a distributor of your goods, position the influencer as the center of a strategy all on its own.

The influencer still holds sway in this generation.

A recent report shows that 24% of Gen-Z women and 16% of men are guided by influencers when it comes to purchasing decisions.

This is done commercially with great success with live-stream shopping, particularly in China.

Influencers are a must-have in your marketing budget. They bring the community you want to reach.

No scripts, just authentic, transparent, and fun.

7. Invite Gen Z To Participate In Your Marketing

Novel, right? Just don’t send your PR team to ask.

As long as it’s genuine, real, and fun, you can ask if they will be interviewed on camera.

You can ask if you can share their tweets or comments about your product.

Get your best Gen-Z customers or Gen-Z employees to reach out to them for this.

Whether good or bad, this kind of transparency creates real and lasting bonds.

8. Get Everyone To Create

Take advantage of platforms like TikTok that encourage content creation, engagement, and interaction.

If you can start a hashtag, a trend, or a challenge, like the Coca-Cola challenge, you get incredible exposure.

Or, join an existing hashtag and ride the wave.

9. Be Fun And Adventurous

Keep it fun.

I know that Zoomers are very in touch with socioeconomic and environmental challenges, but the escape afforded by social platforms means they are drawn to fun content.

Don’t avoid creating content that is adventurous and fun-spirited.

10. Leverage User-Generated Content

Given their quest for truth, I find that user-generated content (UGC) often gets the best results with a Generation Z target audience.

What does this look like in your campaign?

Use pictures of real people and real customers rather than a photoshopped stock image.

Why is this good for business? Well, a recent survey shows that close to 80% of people cite UGC as a reason to buy.

When prompted to pick between a user-generated travel photo vs. stock travel, 70% of Gen Z say they’re most likely to trust a company more when it uses photos of real customers in its advertising.

11. Don’t Abandon Omni-Channel Marketing

Yes, we know that Gen Z loves their phones.

However, they also love brick-and-mortar stores.

In fact, three times as many Gen Z’ers say they shop in a real retail store compared to online.

So, you need to reach Zoomers at all their watering holes: social media, YouTube, email, streaming, etc.

Need more proof?

According to a report from Pitney Bowes and the CMO Council, 88% of Zoomers actually prefer a blend of digital and physical marketing.

Final Thoughts

The most important takeaway from all of this data is that Generation Z is not some secretive entity. There is a vast amount of data that reveals what they prefer when it comes to marketing and spending.

The best way to reach them is to use platforms and tools wisely, with thought, and with clear intent

Regardless of how you do it, you need to consider your strategy for marketing to Gen Z consumers.

Their number, influence, and spending power is growing by the day.

Members of Generation Z are loyal and want to build relationships with authentic brands that stand for something.

Here’s to successfully marketing to Gen Z when you make use of the insights that are readily available to you to guide your strategies.

If you are interested in original article by Alex Macura you can find it here

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Marketing in a recession: How to avoid 5 common mistakes

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Instead of making hasty and costly marketing decisions, learn how to position your brand to survive and thrive over the long haul.

It’s hard not to be anxious about the macroeconomy right now. 

Unless you’re a brand marketer in a thoroughly recession-proof industry or an agency marketer with a portfolio of clients in recession-proof industries, you’re working against an undercurrent of stress and performance pressure.

These emotions may help some marketers achieve hyper-focus. But they’re also leading many to make hasty decisions that run counter to the short- and long-term health of their businesses. 

In this article, you’ll learn some common mistakes marketers make and more thoughtful alternatives that will position brands to survive and thrive over the long haul.

Mistake 1: Cutting instead of reducing

You’ve likely heard that marketing is a flywheel.

What that means, especially with major platform algorithms’ self-learning capabilities, is that cutting spend implies a hard reset that will have last ramifications well beyond the time it takes to turn campaigns back on.

What to do instead

Wherever possible, keep the lights on in campaigns you know are providing results. If you need to reduce spend: 

  • Understand that you’re in good company.
  • Take a deep breath and start by dialing back (but not cutting altogether) where you’ll see a less immediate impact. 

If you can’t clearly see opportunities within specific campaign segments, you may need more precise segmentation:

  • Top of funnel, middle of funnel or bottom of funnel at the campaign level.
  • By objective at the ad set level. 

This will help you assess where performance is relatively poor and eligible for reductions.

Mistake 2: Cutting without referencing account history

It’s an especially tough time for startups. Without a lot of benchmarking data, they’re unable to reference past account history for smarter budget reductions. 

There are fewer excuses for more established brands not to dig into the history of account performance (especially if the history goes back to other frenetic times, like the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic), but I’ve seen it happen.

What to do instead

If you are a startup and don’t have a helpful archive of performance data, but you do have an agency running your account, lean heavily on them to pull insights from similar accounts they may have had in the past. (Make sure you’re involving your agency in any big decisions, of course.)

If you have a more established set of accounts, go back at least to your 2020 data to analyze: 

  • How you reallocated budget then.
  • What worked in the short and long terms.
  • What had lasting effects (good or bad). 

This will give you a good strategic starting point for product or service campaigns that remain relevant to your business.

Mistake 3: Cutting without referencing CRM data

I’ve seen this a lot over the years and not just in recessions: marketers who react to surface-level metrics without understanding actual business impact make poor budget decisions.

Examples: 

  • A B2B brand throws more budget at a source of cheap CPLs instead of understanding which source is driving the most qualified leads that evolve into opportunities.
  • An ecommerce brand reduces budget for their highest-CPA audience without realizing that the audience in question carries an average LTV 50% higher than other audiences.

In times where spend reductions are widespread, kneecapping your most valuable audiences, segments or campaigns may achieve your immediate budget goals, but it’ll crater your revenue over the long term.

What to do instead

If you haven’t synced your marketing data with your CRM data, it’s high time to get that nailed down. 

At the very least, make sure you have an understanding (on the B2B side) of which channels are driving your most qualified leads (which you can keep track of on a simple Excel sheet if you’re waiting on dev resources) so you can prioritize other areas for spend reductions.

Mistake 4: Cutting new campaigns prematurely

In today’s algorithm-heavy marketing world:

  • Campaigns need time and data to optimize. 
  • Tests need enough time to return statistically significant results. 

Early indicators are not the full picture and shouldn’t be all the information you need to make your decisions.

What to do instead

Rather than panicking and cutting, rotate in fresh creative and messaging while adjusting bidding types. Go through all the usual optimization options you normally would, and resist the urge to cut without understanding the true performance ceiling of your campaigns.

In B2B, where data density takes longer to build, set some higher-volume growth indicators that will return information more quickly. 

Even CTR can be a decent proxy metric to start with (as long as you react to high CTR/low conversion scenarios by optimizing the weak point in your funnel).

Mistake 5: Going blind to opportunity

While it may feel like a worst-case scenario for many marketers, the likelihood is that at least one of your competitors is in poorer shape – which means they may be leaving market share and/or lower costs on the table for you to grab. 

(If you’re working for a recession-proof brand and have a full budget on hand, this is relevant to you as well, since you may see lower CPMs and CPCs in your social channels once the election and holiday seasons have elapsed).

Yes, many of us are on the defensive for good reason. But spending all of your energy on preservation means you might miss out on opportunities to expand.

What to do instead

Make sure you’re paying attention to weekly cost trends so you can quickly identify (and jump on) any market softness. 

Keep close tabs on industry news, particularly concerning platforms you haven’t yet tested, that indicate any general downward cost trends making those platforms more viable. 

The other thing to watch for is emerging trends and market shifts that you can address in your campaigns. If your traditional ideal customer profile (ICP) is developing new pain points: 

  • Make sure your marketing addresses those.
  • Communicate the developments to your executive team so they can consider shifting any offers accordingly. 

Above all, do your best to approach your campaigns with an eye toward the long term, which will help keep you from spending all of your time and money on sheer survival tactics.

Great marketers emerge from recessions

You may notice that every one of these mistakes should be avoided at all times, not just during economic upheaval.

There’s a reason for the adages about great marketers emerging from recessions.

Whether the recession forces you into good new habits or you brought good habits that helped keep your company ahead of the curve, the foundations of great marketing persist.

Keep them top of mind as you wade through the news cycles and tough internal meetings.

If you are interested in original article by Laura Schiele you can find it here

7 Best Content Marketing Platforms For An Effective Strategy

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Don’t lose out to your competitors by not investing in content marketing. Begin with the top seven options to optimize your content production.

“Content is everything.”

At least, that’s one variation of the saying each website owner adheres to. But in the ever-changing landscape of content marketing, content distribution is a close runner-up to the content itself.

Organizations must invest in effective content marketing by leveraging various content marketing platforms as competition becomes more fierce.

How fierce? 47% of companies plan to grow their content teams this year.

Here are seven tools to consider to take your content to new heights.

1. Exploding Topics – Best For Trending Content

Brian Dean founded Backlinko and Exploding Topics, and has been a trusted resource in content marketing since he grew Backlinko from zero to millions of users per month.

Since Dean established his site, he turned his sights on helping others by offering data on growing topics before they take off.

Exploding Topics aggregates data and uses an advanced algorithm that provides the percentage growth of specific topics of choice.

With access to this data, you can start writing content first to gain a first movers advantage over competitors.

2. BuzzSumo – Best For Social Media Content

BuzzSumo exploded onto the scene in 2013.

Since then, this platform has diversified its service offering to become a powerhouse for serious content marketers.

BuzzSumo offers content discovery, research, monitoring, and influencer insights. The influencer option could exponentially increase the odds of virality for your content marketing efforts.

By navigating to the “top sharers” section, you can pinpoint influencers that have shared articles that may correlate to topics you have written and reach out to the influencers to share your article to expand your content reach.

3. Outbrain – Best For Native Content

Outbrain was one of the leading pioneers of native content and has gained tremendous market share over competitors.

Today Outbrain provides 344 billion monthly content recommendations in over fifty-five countries. Getting started with Outbrain does not involve a significant cost investment.

To begin a campaign on the Outbrain network, you can set a campaign budget of $20 and a CPC (cost per click) price point of 0.03 cents.

Considering how rapidly you can expand your content marketing reach and strategically retarget users once they have navigated to your site makes Outbrain a no-brainer, pun intended.

4. Patreon – Best For Content Membership

Patreon offers a premium membership model to content creators.

Monthly pledges from patrons have provided content creators with a consistent way to provide quality content while making a living.

Founded in 2013, Patreon quickly became the go-to platform for content creators to establish a loyal fan base.

Content creators span several focus areas, which include videographers, Podcasters, Writers, artists, and musicians.

If you are a content creator that wants to earn a living without starting a blog, Patreon is the way to go.

5. Contently – Best For Content Scheduling

Scheduling content distribution is easy with the help of Contently. You can easily plan times and dates to distribute content across several platforms.

A feature called Storybook uses proprietary technology to provide a predictive model of which topics will have the most significant impact.

Additionally, Contently provides SEO recommendations and checks the voice and tone of the content. One of the most powerful features Contently provides is access to the premium creative network.

It can be a hassle to vet writers when you are just starting.

Contently has created a premium network of writers you can leverage. Many of these writers have published articles for The New Yorker, Wired, and The Financial Times, among many other established publications.

Contently also provides access to videographers and designers to help create more impactful content through the premium creative network.

If you are looking for an enterprise content marketing platform Contently is a top contender.

6. Scoop.it – Best for Content Curation

Scoop.it is a cloud-based content management platform that discovers and researches content via the web and social networks. Over 30 million web pages are crawled from Scoop.it.

You can quickly scale your curated content needs by leveraging the WordPress integration to publish content directly to your site.

Leveraging curated content will help establish trust and add additional value to your audience while highlighting your specific industry expertise.

You might be losing out if you are not integrating curated content into your content marketing strategy.

Hootsuite advises a ratio of 40% created and 60% curated content to boot your content marketing efforts.

7. Uberflip – Best For Personalized Content

Uberflip offers several options for content marketers, but one of the most valuable features Uberflip provides is the ability to personalize content for audiences.

As a result, content marketers turn to Uberflip to execute ABM (account-based marketing).

The content destination feature allows marketers to engage audiences with tailored messaging and provides customized layouts and personalized branding.

Given the statistics around personalization, content marketers need to be mindful of tailored messaging.

Conclusion

If your organization is not investing in content marketing, it might be safe to assume you are losing market share to your competitors.

Content marketing is not an option but a necessity in today’s current landscape.

As a result, several content marketing platform choices exist to get started quickly.

There is no right on wrong options to get started with content marketing.

You have to jump in and get your feet wet.

Beginning with one of the content marketing platforms mentioned above is a good move in the right decision.

If you are interested in original article by Darrell Williams you can find it here

The best festive cards for Christmas 2022 by independent artists and designers

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It’s coming. The festive season is nearly upon us. Support solo creatives this Yuletide by buying these truly beautiful Christmas cards for your loved ones.

Christmas is a season for giving, and while that’s mainly about friends and relatives, it’s nice to support fellow creatives at the same time. So rather than buy generic Christmas cards from a big global retailer, why not source yours from independent artists and illustrators instead?

Not only will you feel a warm glow at supporting the creative community, but you’ll also find unique and beautiful designs in the process that you simply won’t find on the high street or down an Amazon-shaped hole. To give you some pointers, below we’ve listed our 20 favourite cards by independent creatives this Christmas.

For more ideas, check out Just a Card’s Indie Week, from 21-25 November, which is dedicated to supporting independent shops, galleries, artists and designers. Every sale, even if it’s just a card, is vital to their prosperity and survival, so sign up for the campaign, and you’re sure to find bucketloads of Christmas card inspiration.

Finally, don’t forget Small Business Saturday on 3 December, another grassroots campaign encouraging people to shop locally. Inspired by this brilliant movement, we’ve listed 55 of the UK’s top independent shops around the nation, and you can find more on the Small Business Saturday website.

1. Hole in my Pocket

Architect and artist Allistair J Burt is known for illustrations with a fantastic sense of humour. In recent years he’s started to develop retail products, including some wonderful Christmas cards. Made from thick 330gsm, FSC credited paper stock, these cards have a light satin coating on the outside, while the inside is left uncoated, making it easier for you to write a message. Each card is individually scored, ensuring a clean fold, and comes with a simple 100% recycled brown envelope.

Hole in my Pocket
Hole in my Pocket

2. The Completist

The Completist creates unique and colourful printed paper goods and accessories to brighten any desk. Their products are inspired by the things they stumble across that give them a dopamine hit – anything from a 1996 Dries Van Noten runway show to 1960s Saul Bass movie posters. This year they have a great selection of Christmas cards and wrapping paper starting at just £1.

The Completist
The Completist

3. Sean O’Brien

Based in Brighton, Sean O’Brien is an illustrator and animator whose clients include FT Weekend, Djøfbladet and Ferment Magazine. We love the colourful Risograph cards he’s selling on Esty this Christmas, of an Ice SkaterSnowman and Broken Snowman. There are some lovely A4 prints here, too.

Sean O'Brien
Sean O’Brien

4. Wild Collection by iyouall

London-based iya studio has been winning respect for its client work over the last 12 years, and it also has its own interior design store, iyouall, which offers this Wild Collection of Christmas greeting cards for 2022. These cards take the brand’s signature glyph pattern and lets it swirl across the page with a shimmering touch of festive spirit. Designed in-house by the iya studio team, the cards are beautifully foiled by Typoretum, using metallic foils with Wild Papers from GF Smith.

Wild Collection by iyouall. Image by Tian Khee Siong
Wild Collection by iyouall. Image by Tian Khee Siong

5. Katie Leamon

Katie Leamon is a design-led card and stationery brand rooted in the desire to create a beautiful, practical design with tangible craftsmanship. They have a beautiful collection for 2022, all sustainably made and handprinted on their tabletop press. These cards are inspired by vintage memorabilia and typography, including Victorian Christmas cards and patterns.

Katie Leamon
Katie Leamon

6. Hollie Fuller

Hollie Fuller is a freelance illustrator and maker from Lincolnshire whose playful approach to image-making is inspired by people, things and the mundanities of everyday life. This year she has four A6 festive card designs available to buy from her website, either individually or in multipacks. Printed in the UK on 300gsm stock, each card comes with a recycled kraft envelope, plastic-free, in a hard-backed envelope.

Hollie Fuller
Hollie Fuller

7. Ellis Tolsma

Ellis Tolsma is a freelance illustrator who loves playing with shapes, colours and materials in her work. This year she has a couple of lovely Christmas card sets, each coming in a choice of six, 12 or 24, on her site. The format is A6, printed on high-quality 350gsm sulphate board. She’s also working on a Riso printed A3 calendar, coming soon.

Ellis Tolsma
Ellis Tolsma

8. Natàlia Juan Abelló

Natàlia Juan Abelló is a freelance illustrator and surface pattern designer from Barcelona, based in Saddleworth, Greater Manchester. For the last four years, she’s been designing a set of four cards every year, so she now has quite a collection in her shop. You can buy them as a set, individually, or create your own bundle of four cards.

If you’re looking for something a bit different, check out her card based on Tió de Nadal. “He’s a traditional Christmas character from my native Catalonia, which is basically a log with a painted face and a traditional hat,” Natàlia explains. “On the run-up to Christmas, we feed him, and on Christmas day, children hit him with a stick whilst singing songs, and Tió poops their presents. It’s a very loved tradition in Catalonia, but we get it that it sounds nuts everywhere else!”

Natàlia Juan Abelló
Natàlia Juan Abelló

9. Clair Rossiter

Clair Rossiter is a freelance illustrator from London who combines work for clients like Hello Magazine, Whistlefish, Paperchase and Harrods with crafting her own products. She’s created some lovely illustrated cards for 2022, which are available at her Etsy shop, and will also be on sale at the Kings Cross Illustrators’ Fair in December.

Clair Rossiter Illustration
Clair Rossiter Illustration

10. Gail Myerscough

Gail Myerscough is a freelance surface pattern designer and illustrator based in Manchester who takes her inspiration from mid-century design, the colours and patterns of the 1960s and post-war modernist architecture. She creates a new Christmas card collection every year, and her 2022 cards have already sold over 1000. We’re not surprised: they’re fantastic, and the look is sharp, eye-catching and very distinctive.

Gail Myerscough
Gail Myerscough

11. Tina Hagger

Tina Hagger, aka Haggy, is a linocut printmaker and artist whose cards are all individually designed, drawn, linocut and handprinted personally, from start to finish. We love this original design inspired by the beautiful Kent countryside where Oasthouses – buildings traditionally used for drying hops – abound. This charming snow scene is handprinted on quality, blank 7×5 inch cards.

Tina Hagger
Tina Hagger

12. Taaryn Brench

Taaryn Brench is an independent designer and illustrator based in Leeds whose work is characterised by a love of colour, pattern and playfulness. Working from her home studio, Taaryn has put out some gorgeous A6 Christmas cards for 2022, printed on recycled paper and accompanied by brown kraft envelopes. She also has some beautiful wrapping paper, in 700 x 500mm sheets, printed on 115gsm silk paper.

Taaryn Brench
Taaryn Brench

13. Emily Dayson

Emily is a freelance illustrator based in Cheshire who enjoys combining colourful hand-rendered textures with digital collage techniques to create meaningful illustrations, mostly inspired by wellness and nature. Her website boasts an ever-growing range of unique illustrated Christmas cards, which you can buy either individually or in personalised packs.

Emily Dayson
Emily Dayson

14. Eat Haggis

Looking for Scottish-themed Christmas cards? Then you’ll find a range of brilliant ones, along with shirts, mugs and prints, at Eat Haggis, a project from Allistair J Burt, whose main shop features at number one on this list. The aim of this brand is to celebrate and be proud of all that Scotland has to offer, with a sense of humour running throughout.

Eat Haggis
Eat Haggis

15. Glitter and Earth

Illustrator Jacqueline Wild lives in Cornwall on the wild north coast, and her pretty Christmas cards evoke nature and capture the magic of the season. They’re sustainable, too, as Jacqueline takes the ‘Earth’ side of her Glitter and Earth business seriously. So she uses organic cotton for her prints in ways that minimise wastage, and none of her cards are sent with cello wrap but instead are wrapped in acid-free, recycled tissue paper. They’re sold in singles or packs of five.

Glitter and Earth
Glitter and Earth

16. Stanley Chow

Manchester artist Stanley Chow is a huge name in the illustration world (read our interview with him here) and his unique style shines through his 2022 Christmas card design. Celebrating Shane MacGowan and Kirsty McColl, singers of the evergreen Yuletide pop song Fairytale of New York, this 14.8 x 14.8 cm square greeting card is left blank inside, available individually or as packs of five, 10 or 20.

Stanley Chow
Stanley Chow

17. Iris van den Akker

Iris van den Akker is an illustrator and 2D animator who works from an 1892 warehouse in Amsterdam. Her peace-themed Christmas card for 2022 couldn’t be more timely, and it’s quite beautifully designed. This A6 card is digitally printed on 350g FSC-certified premium paper and comes with a 100% recycled brown envelope.

Iris van den Akker
Iris van den Akker

18. Rozalina Burkova

Based between Barcelona and Sofia, Bulgarian illustrator and 2D animator Rozalina Burkova creates delightfully compelling images that radiate energy and dynamic movement. And her colourful artwork translates perfectly to her boxed set of six Christmas cards. Finished with gold foil details and writing, these 4.3 x 6.1-inch cards are printed on uncoated FSC-certified card using vegetable-based inks. They come packed in a green envelope in a clear biodegradable cello bag.

Rozalina Burkova
Rozalina Burkova

19. Isabelle Feliu

Originally from Québec City and now based in Oslo, Isabelle Feliu is an illustrator and painter working with traditional media. Painted in her trademark style, Her Little Bird of Winter is an unusual and unexpectedly charming take on the Christmas card. Like Rozalina Burkova’s entry on our list above, this 5.1 x 7.5-inch design is printed on an uncoated FSC-certified card using vegetable-based inks. It comes packed with a soft grey envelope in a clear biodegradable cello bag.

Isabelle Feliu
Isabelle Feliu

20. Mister Peebles

Sheffield-based artist Mister Peebles, aka Helen McGinley, makes illustrated cards, prints and stationery with a healthy dose of animal puns and planet-friendly materials. This year she’s added a new Christmas card to her online store, featuring a delightful image of a bear wrapped up in fairy lights. It’s printed on thick 300gsm white card, A6 size, and can be bought individually or in packs of four, six or 10. You can also get mixed packs of cards, plus there’s a 2023 calendar featuring 12 months of British weather puns.

Mister Peebles
Mister Peebles

21. Eat Well MCR

A bunch of creatives have got together to support Eat Well MCR, a local charity that will use all profits to deliver meals to people experiencing food poverty across Greater Manchester, including homeless families living in hostels, women in refuges and family-focused food banks. Stanley Chow, Maisy Summer, The Hare and the Bear, David Bailey, Guy McKinley and Jane Bowyer have all supplied gorgeous card designs. We’ve picked out Cup of Good Cheer by Jane but all are available in packs of six, twelve or eighteen. Merry Christmas!

Cup of Good Cheer by Jane Bowyer
Cup of Good Cheer by Jane Bowyer

If you are interested in original article by Tom May you can find it here

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earn-links-statistics

How To Optimize Your Statistics Pages To Earn Links

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Have you noticed that some statistics pages naturally earn links while others fall flat? I analyzed successful stats pages and this is what I learned.

You’ve probably already heard that statistics pages are a great way to generate links.

You’ve also likely noticed that some statistics pages are much more successful at earning links than others.

So I wanted to figure out what separates the most successful statistics pages from those that fall flat.

After researching and experimenting with my own content, I found five key things that seem to significantly improve a statistics post’s link attraction.

I’ll discuss each tactic in detail below and provide step-by-step instructions so that you can duplicate the results.

Incorporate Journalistic Keywords

I learned the reverse outreach hack from Brian Dean, and it’s now my favorite strategy to incorporate into any statistics page.

In the case study he wrote, his content organically earned over 5,000 links thanks to this method.

The idea is that instead of you reaching out to journalists and content marketers and begging them to link to your content, they find your content when looking for data to support their argument and naturally link to you.

So start by finding long-tail keywords that are clearly hunting for data – Brian Dean calls them “journalistic keywords.”

To find these keywords, you can use a couple of different tactics:

Find long tail keywords on competing statistics pages.
Answer “People Also Asked” questions.
Finding long-tail keywords is pretty easy. You can Google the main keyword (e.g., “SEO statistics” or “coaching statistics”), take the top-ranking URL, and put it into your favorite keyword tool. Then, you can look at all the long-tail keywords and questions the page ranks for.

Here’s an example of this in action:

How to Optimize Your Statistics Pages to Generate Maximum LinksScreenshot from Ahrefs, September 2022

The other option is to look at the People Also Asked question box for your main keyword:

People Also Asked For Fast Food Statistics

A pro tip is to click on each of the questions as it will generate even more questions:

People Also Asked Stat ExampleScreenshot from search for fast food statistics, Google, September 2022

As you include the statistical answers to each question in your post, optimize them for featured snippets by setting up the People Also Asked phrase as a question and then answering it as a complete sentence.

Here’s an example:

How many people eat fast food every day?

Approximately 85 million Americans eat fast food every day.

Find And Update Popular Stats

Ahrefs did a popular link-building study that walked through how it built 36 backlinks (for free) to a stats page by emailing websites with outdated statistics and offering more recent statistics posted on its brand-new stats page.

As a result, its post quickly became the top-ranking post for the term “SEO statistics.” Two years later, it’s still sitting in the second position.

SEO Stats Google Search

Step 1: Take the top-ranking URL for your main keyword (e.g., “SEO statistics”) and put it into your favorite keyword tool.

Step 2: Check out its backlink profile and look at the most popular statistics. You can do this by scrolling through the backlink profile for the page and then doing an anchor text search for numbers you notice repeatedly.

For example, this statistic (“a third of Americans eat fast food each day”) seems to be popular:

Ahrefs Screenshot of Backlink profileScreenshot from Ahrefs, September 2022

Step 3: Check that the statistic is outdated (at least 2-3 years old).

If it is, try to find a more updated statistic to replace it. If you can’t find a more up-to-date statistic, consider creating a new statistic yourself.

For example, I was doing a stats page for chatbots and found some dated statistics on how many people use chatbots by country.

So, I used Clearbit and another data extraction site to come up with more current statistics and then compared the new data to the dated statistics:

outdated chatbot statisticsScreenshot from Chatfuel.com, September 2022

Step 4: Reach out to the websites with the dated statistics and offer the updated statistics.

Most people don’t respond to the traditional “link to my stats page because it’s better than the old page!”

However, most people like to have up-to-date content and, therefore, might be willing to swap out their old statistics for newer ones that you offer on a silver platter.

In fact, if you wanted to go the extra mile, you could even offer to update the whole page for them.

As mentioned earlier, this process helped Ahrefs earn 36 links in just a few weeks and catapult its page to the top of the search results.

Use A Hub And Spoke Model/Skyscraper Technique

I’ve noticed that many of the most successful statistics pages are organized in a hub and spoke/skyscraper style.

HubSpot’s Marketing Statistics page is an excellent example of a well-organized skyscraper-style statistics page.

Specifically, it includes the following sections:

  • Content Marketing Statistics.
  • Social Media Marketing Statistics.
  • Video Marketing Statistics.
  • Email Marketing Statistics.
  • Lead Generation Statistics.
  • Advertising Statistics.
  • Marketing Technology Statistics.
  • Sales Statistics.

This page even ranks well for many of these “spoke” statistics keywords. For example, the general page still ranks second for the term “content marketing statistics.”

Google Search for Content Marketing Statistics

So next time you create a statistics page, separate it into several categories and continuously update and build out those categories.

Include Original Data

Given that the meat of statistics pages is data, creating original data is another great way to attract links.

However, most people assume that creating new data is time-consuming and expensive.

While this is true if you intend to do a major “state of the industry” study, there are plenty of ways to create or extract original data for free (or cheap).

Below, I’ll walk you through a few of my go-to methods.

Scan Public Data

There is plenty of data available that most people simply don’t want to organize.

The first person to introduce me to this method was Andy Crestodina. He told me he wanted to know the average lifespan of a website, but that statistic didn’t exist.

So he pulled a list of the top 200 marketing websites (according to Alexa) and hired a VA to go into the Wayback Machine and record the last time the website had a major overhaul.

The answer was two years and seven months.

Today, that single statistic has earned that post over 1,000 backlinks from websites like HubSpot, Forbes, Wikipedia, the Content Marketing Institute, and other websites that you could never buy a link from:

Ahrefs ScreenshotScreenshot from Ahrefs, September 2022

Leverage Internal Data

Another great way to create fresh statistics is to pull internal data.

Ahrefs has several excellent examples of this:

  • 90.63% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google
  • At Least 66.5% of Links to Sites in the Last 9 Years Are Dead
  • Do Links Still Matter for Rankings? A Study by Ahrefs

I want to point out that Ahrefs always creates an individual post on each of these statistics and then later adds the statistics to its other dedicated statistics pages.

I’ve found that this is a clever way to maximize the links you can get for a single statistic.

For example, the first post I mentioned (90.63% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google) has over 8,000 backlinks (over 3,000 referring domains).

Without a dedicated post, that statistic could have easily gotten lost on a massive statistics page.

Therefore, consider pulling out your most valuable statistics and creating a dedicated post to promote that statistic and maximize links.

Send Customer Surveys

If you have a large email list, another option is to survey your customers or audience. For example, Andy Crestodina does an annual blogger survey, which always receives much attention.

He says that it takes over 100 hours to put together, though you can see that it is well worth the effort, given that it organically attracted over 13,000 backlinks (over 3,000 referring domains).

Screenshot of Ahrefs

If you don’t have a list, you can also use a market research tool like SurveyMonkey or Pollfish, though this can get more expensive.

Create Graphics

Content marketers need data to support their claims, but they also need graphics and images to support their claims. Therefore, I strongly recommend creating graphics for your data as well.

For example, in the Google Lens search for the graphic below, you can see that a lot of different websites have shared it.

Screenshot of Google Lens SearchScreenshot from Google Lens search, September 2022

The best part about graphics is that you can take existing statistics and make graphics of them with your branding (just be sure to credit the original source).

Oberlo has plenty of examples of this:

monthly active youtube users graphicScreenshot from Oberlo, September 2022

If you don’t have a designer on staff, you can hire someone on Upwork or Dribbble to create graphics for you.

Start Updating Your Statistics Pages Now

Creating a great statistics page is a lot more than just creating the longest list of statistics that exists.

It’s about creating a resource that journalists and other content marketers find useful and can use to support their claims.

If you are interested in original article by Megan Mahoney you can find it here

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