Zazzle Media » Blogs We are a content and data led Content marketing, SEO consulting and social media agency Fri, 17 Apr 2015 08:11:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Simple Guide On How To Do Keyword Research Fri, 17 Apr 2015 08:11:32 +0000 Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of an online strategy. It can either make or break your online success. You need to make sure you are targeting the right keywords that are relevant to the website’s content and provide valuable traffic that will convert. But how do you do all of this? […]

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Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of an online strategy. It can either make or break your online success. You need to make sure you are targeting the right keywords that are relevant to the website’s content and provide valuable traffic that will convert.

But how do you do all of this?

First, you need to determine how your site is currently performing. Has your business just launched, if so, you probably don’t have any links? Or is your business a seasoned veteran within your industry with lots of authority, but not receiving quality traffic through the organic keywords it currently ranks for?

If you have just launched your website you should concentrate on going for those longer tail keyword opportunities with reasonable search volume, as these keywords are generally more achievable. New websites can build up their authority faster this way and therefore, be able to compete for these terms instead of for the more popular head terms within their industry. As you can see in  the graph below long tail keywords are growing. Zazzle’s MD and founder, Simon Penson, presented a talk at the BrightonSEO conference this year explaining how “The Head Term is Dead“.

long tail graph

However, if you have been in the industry for a long time and are not really seeing your keywords convert, your current meta data will need to be analysed in-depth to find the best keywords to target, or it might be a deeper reason, such as technical SEO issues affecting the landing page.

Although, for the sake of this post, we are going to show you how to do keyword research on a new website and determine what keywords to target. We are going to be focusing on the coffee industry.

Step 1: Identify Your Key Landing Pages.

Let’s say you have just launched a coffee shop, a good place to start is by looking at all the landing pages on your website and picking out key services and categories, then compiling a base list of all the main services/products you offer. For example, it could look something like this:

  • Coffee
  • Coffee Shop
  • Organic Coffee
  • Fairtrade Coffee
  • Arabica Coffee
  • Robusta Coffee
  • Peruvian Coffee
  • Colombian Coffee
  • Costa Rica Coffee
  • Blended Coffees
  • Coffee Beans

Step 2: Grab All Of The Existing Meta Data & Create A Spreadsheet

The next step is to get all of the existing meta data for the landing pages where you picked out the above keywords, so when you come to further optimising those pages you will be able to see the differences in search volume.

You can do this by entering all the URLs into a Notepad file, then on ScreamingFrog changing the mode to list, upload and it will only grab the meta data for the URLs specified.

Screaming Frog List Crawl

However, if you don’t have ScreamingFrog you can just right click and view source on the landing page and you can find all the relevant meta data in there, but this would take time for a lot of separate URLs.

Then you need to make sure you can easily visualise this data, lucky for you we have created a template, contact us if you would like a copy. Once you have all the meta data for the existing landing pages, enter them on the top half of this spreadsheet.

Keyword Research Template

Step 3: Look For New Opportunities

Now comes the fun part: Looking for what keywords you can target on your landing pages that are going to drive relevant, converting traffic to your website. We need to gather a list of keywords along with their average monthly search volume coming from Google.

First, get the keywords we mentioned earlier, and whack them through Google’s keyword tool, and download all of this data.

Keyword Planner Download Data

Then, to get more ideas use Google Auto Suggest, put the websites that are ranking for those auto suggest keywords into SEMrush to get all of their keyword data, you can do this with as many competitors as you like, so you have a comprehensive list of keywords.


coffee beans

SEMrush Export

Put all of this data into a spreadsheet with just the keywords and the amount of organic search volume it receives.

Step 4: Collate All Keywords

Now you have all this data you need to delete the duplicates within Excel. Then to narrow it down even further get rid of any search volume below 50, after this I managed to get the list of keywords down to around 600.

Remove duplicates

Then you will need to go through and delete any you think you will never target on your website, which, in this case, got the number down to around 400.

Step 5: How To Determine The Best Keywords To Target

Next is the more difficult part, assigning the right keywords to the right landing pages and ensuring you are not targeting the keyword on more than one page. As the business doesn’t have much authority and is new I recommend going for the mid to long tail keywords with around 300 to 5,000 average organic searches per month. Then search for the keyword you want to target to see the competition on the first page.

If I wanted to compete for the keyword “coffee beans online” I would look at the top 3 competitors. There is a new tool out by LinkRisk called SpiralDB which is great and grabs all the data from SEMrush, Majestic, Ahrefs and LinkRisk into one tool and gives you a quick overview of the domain. This is perfect for getting a quick scope of your competitors.


Another great tool is the MOZ bar, which gives you a quick overview of how many links are going to the page and domain right from the search page.


If you would like to conduct a more detailed competitors’ audit, I suggest you read my earlier blog post on competitive auditing.

Remember to keep the keywords you don’t use in mind for future blog posts and services you could offer to try to capture that organic traffic, once you are more established online.

Step 6: Track The Keywords

Finally, once you have selected all your keywords for each landing page, you need to be able to track them effectively. There are a number of tools out there available for this, here are a few of our favourites:

  • SERPS – Great ranking tool, that allows you to set up multiple campaigns and shows you local listings.
  • Fatrank – Free Google Chrome plugin, which allows you to quickly check keywords when you are on a website.
  • AWR – Another great ranking tool, that hosts an array of other features.
  • What’s My SERP – Free rank tracking tool, great for tracking a small number of keywords.


  1. First you need to identify the key landing pages and keywords on your website.
  2. Get all the existing meta data and put it in a spreadsheet, then build the meta data out with the new keywords you want to target.
  3. Look for new keyword opportunities using Google Keyword Planner Tool, Auto Suggest and SEMrush.
  4. Collate all the keywords, get rid of duplicates and non relevant terms to your business.
  5. When determining what keywords to use, search for the keyword in Google to see the top 3 organic results, and understand what you’re up against.
  6. Finally track the keywords you are targeting on your pages.

I hope you have learned or found something new from this post, leave a comment below with any questions you might have and give it a share if it has helped.

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#BrightonSEO 2015 Roundup Tue, 14 Apr 2015 10:11:47 +0000 More than 1700 of the best digital marketing specialists in Europe descended on Brighton last week for BrightonSEO 2015 – a free one-day conference sharing the most cutting edge thinking in digital. The Zazzle team was there to capture the very best takeaways and we share those points below alongisde our own MD Simon Penson’s […]

The post #BrightonSEO 2015 Roundup appeared first on Zazzle Media.

More than 1700 of the best digital marketing specialists in Europe descended on Brighton last week for BrightonSEO 2015 – a free one-day conference sharing the most cutting edge thinking in digital.

The Zazzle team was there to capture the very best takeaways and we share those points below alongisde our own MD Simon Penson’s “The Head Term Is Dead” presentation from the event. You can capture the full transcript and deck from that one by clicking here.

So, without further ‘ado’ here is the best of the best from the event…

Show Your Flare and Pivot for Social Image Sharing – Erica McGillivray

Erica Mcgillivray from Moz took the stage on Brighton Dome Hall to talk about flare and pivot for social image sharing.

  • The five basic design principles for social media image sharing – high contrast, Clean and Crisp, Branded, Bold, Unity!
  • The five social media psychology triggers – match copy to the image, challenge audiences, take risks, establish creditability and make human connections!
  • Designers – need to be able to quickly pivot to image sizes, keep up to date with changes for designers. Jump on to Upcoming social media. Create custom templates, so you can change the image and text.
  • Developers – explain the business case – project overview. They need implement open graph tags, twitter cards, correctly across social media. twitter cards with large vs small – build sharing into your culture. On WordPress you can install plugins to fix this. Get developers to code your own if not on WordPress.
  • Prioritize repeatable and evergreen projects!
  • Case study: YouMoz social images – 313% lift in visits. An average uplift of 469.95% per blog post by using images on Twitter.

Designing Content for Mobile – Vicke Cheung

Next up on the stage was Vicke Cheung a brilliant graphic designer to share her presentation on designing content for mobile first!

  • Mobile is the big deal, set to get even bigger with the update on the 21st of April. Content marketing is mobile marketing!
  • Space is premium, follow the KISS rule. Keep it simple stupid.
  • It’s about designing for a fluid framework, there is no point in designing for specific screen size as they’re are far to many.
  • Test on actual mobile devices and get opinions from real people who haven’t worked on the project to get a true representation.
  • Use patterns and familiar elements such as the hamburger menu – is great source – just make use of tried and tested patterns, don’t reinvent the wheel!
  • Form follows function – performance is KEY – load times, check on Google chrome mobile emulator.
  • Serve images selectively – save the same images in different sizes, and define in browser when to load each image to save on load times.

Making Competitions Fun – Iain Haywood

Iain Haywood from the Competition Agency enters the stage to talk about what makes online competitions successful and fun to get the maximum benefit and reach of conducting one.

  • Here are a few reasons to run a competition or giveaway: SEO, Social, User Acquisition, Opt-in, PR and finally Revenue!
  • You need to focus on the campaign priorities – The Yield (what’s the payoff, links etc.) The Cost, Overall time to create and is the competition fun to make and participate in?
  • The 3 golden rules
  • There is more than one type of entrant, one is interested in winning and the other is interested in your brand, broadly speaking.
  • Your competition is unlikely to be a solution to all your problems!
  • Incentivisation changes the nature of intent.
  • The difference between a competition and a giveaway. A competition is a skilled based entry and is judged. However a giveaway is a non skill based entry and is a random draw.
  • Create a landing page for your competition, so you can start capturing links, data and signals.
  • Technical entry, more likely to enter and share. Some great plugins and websites to create websites on. Gleam, Rafflecopter and Antavo
  • Doesn’t have to cost the earth! (see slide 45)

Schema, JSON-LD and the Semantic Web – Kirsty Hulse

Kirsty Hulse the Head of SEO at Linkdex takes the stage to explain what schema, JSON-LD and the semantic web is and how it can benefit us as SEOs and our clients.

  • How can we implement structured markup to support a semantic web, when it is complicated and expensive?
  • Semantic web is to create a common framework that allows data to be shared and re-used, for search, the use of markup reinforces the meaning of the information.
  • Only about 0.3 percent of domains use schema markup on their websites
  • JSON-LD is a way of exchanging data without markup, it can be placed in the head code not the body so can be implemented easier.
  • However having markup doesn’t necessary mean you will get it included in SERPs.

A 10 Step Technical SEO Game Plan – Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas is from Deepcrawl a popular in the cloud crawling application, and presents a 10 step technical SEO game plan every technical SEO should follow.

  1. Engage – begin with the end in mind, objectives, prioritising, blocking?
  2. Comprehensively audit – you need to dive deep into the data.
  3. Sell two key wins from the audit that is going to have the most positive impact.
  4. Share architectural insight, which will be available from the comprehensive audit.
  5. Analyse impact – make sure you link back to your overall business goals!
  6. Automate -perform regular checks and analysis, it’s a sustainable way of working in commercial organisations.
  7. Start making history, how is your website evolving? Build a cache of your website over time.
  8. Be there in the hour of need, especially migration, all websites releases should be pre-tested.
  9. Simplify reporting – ensure your communication isn’t losing people, deliver digestible information.
  10. Control the future, be the person everyone looks to when there is a problem and be informed on how your website is evolving.

Doing an Awesome Site Audit – Jono Alderson

Jono Alderson the Head of insight at Linkdex arrives on the stage to talk about doing an awesome site audit to make sense to all the audiences within the company you are doing it for.

  • Technical SEO is hugely important…yet consistently terrible!
  • Fixing things is often big and complex, technically and politically.
  • Nobody want’s an audit, they want to see results, your responsibility is to make things happen!
  • The process – consider you have multiple audience, all with different needs, know the audience you are communicating too.
  • To communicate to all of the audiences of the business you need the following deliverables:
  • Quick wins, a long form editorial audit, a spreadsheet of prioritised issues, cheat sheets and a storyboard style presentation.
  • When conducting the audit, focus on the cause, not the symptom.

Ecommerce SEO: Boosting Visibility With Faceted Navigation – Alec Bertram

Alec Bertram from Allotment Digital enters the stage to explain how to boost your website’s visibility with a faceted navigation.

  • 70% of UK e-commerce websites have a variation of this problem.
  • The purchase decision cycles tends to follow the user having awareness of your brand or product, then comes the interest and finally the consideration of the user buying from you.
  • In terms of keyword’s the awareness are the head terms, interest is the mid-tail keywords and consideration to buy are the long tail keywords.
  • Relevancy outranks authority
  • To fix this you need to improve the category pages to have more in-depth mid-tail keywords.
  • Build a business case – All possible keywords x search volume x current rank & click through rate x conversion rate and average order value.
  • Be sure to create unique content on each page – at the very least unique titles and meta and page headings.
  • Be sure to limit crawling and indexing within filter groups!
  • Find the problems your customers are trying to solve, make sure you have ‘indexable’ pages to solve those problems and finally don’t try to solve problems which don’t exist.

Other Awesome Presentations!

Below are some more presentations from BrightonSEO 2015 we didn’t have the pleasure of viewing live, in one place, for your viewing pleasure!

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BrightonSEO 2015 – The Head Term is Dead Presentation Fri, 10 Apr 2015 13:43:30 +0000 BrightonSEO is one of the biggest events in the digital marketing calendar and is frequented by Zazzlers. The 2015 event saw Zazzle MD Simon Penson take to the stage to share a successful process our agency has been using to great effect over the last 18 months that takes advantage of the changing ways in […]

The post BrightonSEO 2015 – The Head Term is Dead Presentation appeared first on Zazzle Media.

BrightonSEO is one of the biggest events in the digital marketing calendar and is frequented by Zazzlers. The 2015 event saw Zazzle MD Simon Penson take to the stage to share a successful process our agency has been using to great effect over the last 18 months that takes advantage of the changing ways in which Google presents results.

Below you can find the deck and full transcript and we’ve even created a supporting, in-depth blog post on the subject over at Moz. You can read all about how to leverage the implicit and long tail query opportunity by following the link.

Scroll down now for the actual presentation and transcript…

The Presentation Slides

The BrightonSEO 2015 Transcript

  1. Good afternoon. Great to see so many people here for this session. Context and audience understanding is a subject that is close to my heart and today I want to walk through a process we’ve been using at Zazzle to great effect. Controversial title you may say but the data we have seen over the last year really supports this statement. Let me explain why…
  1. Google has always been good at matching query to documents. Keyword matching is what made the behemoth what it is today and Google used to work on the simple basis of searching the index and matching it to keywords and then organising those relevant documents using its well-publicized ranking algorithm.
  1. But the world moves on. Simple is no longer enough. We want better and best.
  1. Marketing you see has never been about keywords and Google knows it. The focus needs to be on people and what they are searching for.
  1. It’s no surprise as we have seen this basic process many times before in mass media.
  1. If we look at how TV, radio and print have evolved. They all began with an obsession with fairly simplistic technology. As that tech became more user friendly the focus moved away from ‘staring at the radio’ to the content coming from it.
  1. Without that no value is created as the only value media creates is by amassing targeted audiences of value.
  1. Enter Hummingbird, Google new ‘engine’ to power its search algorithms. It replaced Caffeine as the core algorithm, allowing Google to better personalise search and understand the intent behind a query in much more detail.
  1. It has been designed to allow the search giant to scale that across the entire index quickly in the same way that Caffeine gave them the power to quickly roll out new features (such as Penguin and Panda) across every geography.
  1. The question, of course, is how, as marketers, do we react and take advantage of this? To do that let’s have a look how it is beginning to affect search.
  1. Until recently if you typed in hotels (a little personalization aside) you would get a simple list of the ten most ‘authoritative’ hotel sites and it would be your job to sort through it to get to the specific result you wanted to find. Not effective or efficient.
  1. The result was that those ‘head terms’ got all of the volume and that, in turn created a ‘race to the top’ in organic terms and, with it, a lot of the spammy tactics Google has had to jump on recently.
  1. The reality, however is that was not helping the user and so Google got to work understanding context. In this example we can see how this works. Take a search for ‘hotels’. While it obviously I’m looking for somewhere to stay there is a whole heap of data behind this that refines my query. What I’m actually looking for is a hotel in London. I’m also a company CEO and I have an important meeting tomorrow so need to get some sleep.
  1. A better result for me would be this. A list of quality hotels that are quiet and also those that has meeting space for that meeting. BIG difference.
  1. In this world everything we know changes. The traditional long tail curve dies and we see search volume spread much more evenly across millions of ‘terms’ (or results).
  1. And the smart way of claiming that is to create specific content to service that growing search traffic opportunity. Specific article-level content is much more likely to surface here as it answers a specific question.
  1. How do we do that? Let’s look quickly at the process we use to do this.
  1. It all starts with insight and understanding your audience, as we need to understand the various questions being asked by our target audience.
  1. To do that we use a lengthy and well-honed process, which gels existing data from the client brand.
  1. We then add in social insight and here we can see a couple of slices of this and how it can really help with that understanding piece.
  1. Here we can see data taken from Facebook – the process for this I have spoken about previously here – it’s powerful as it allows you to dig into a huge data set of people who already like your brand and you can benchmark against the UK as a whole to understand the nuances of your customer base.Here we can see, for instance that for this hotel brand looking to tap into that search opportunity we talked about earlier can understand what else their audience is into. Understanding this helps us paint a vivid picture of the person we want to help.
  1. We can even see how that may vary by geography –something which is particularly powerful when designing content strategy to resonate with your entire audience.
  1. We then look at other data sets such as YouGov here to get as full a picture as possible.
  1. Ultimately these feed into a persona creation process and in the examples you see here it is clear to see how each of these has very different content needs and, critically, ask very different questions.
  1. This is what it is all about. Painting human shaped pictures that allow you to really get inside their heads. Creating a list of their key questions can be really helpful here in creating a framework from which keyword research can then hang.
  1. Once you have a clear view on which it is you are talking to and what questions they are asking you can use this to inform the keyword process.
  2. Step one of that process is to jump into your favourite keyword tool. For us that is SEMRush. And while you are looking for the obvious the really useful section of this particular tool is that it allows you to explore ‘related keywords’ in massive depth. It’s precisely this wider view we are looking for here, as we want that long tail.
  3. Another tool we will use is, a fantastic long tail research option as it pulls data from the Google Suggest API, amongst others to give you a view into the extremities of that long tail.
  4. Google itself also helps as it presents lots of relevant queries while you are typing. Don’t hit enter, instead make note of these.
  5. Forums are also a mine of information and you can use advance search operators such as this one to find those forums and the relevant threads within them.Typing these queries in will present you with thousands of questions being asked on your topics.
  6. Soovle is also a nice little tool as it takes out a lot of the hard slog by combining search data from everything from the key search engines to eBay, Netflix and even YouTube.
  7. Competitors can also teach you lots and we steal the best of their ideas to ensure we leave no stone unturned.
  8. One of the best ways of understanding this is to dive into SEMrush again and use its Domain v Domain tool. Here we can see Marriott V Hilton and how their keyword profiles shape up against each other. We can see which keywords they share and what they don’t have.
  9. We can drill down into those we don’t have and sort through for relevant opportunities. Store these alongside the other keyword ideas you have.
  10. All of this should then feed into an editorial calendar alongside your other key content to ensure you work through it in a logical order, prioritized by opportunity size.
  11. And of course you should ensure that is delivered in a way that promotes what we call Content Flow. Here we can see an output from it showing how you should deliver content with variation to ensure your audience stays engaged. You can test if for yourself here.
  12. And our free toolkit can help you ensure it all comes together. Grab it here.
  13. Oh and you want to know the point of this. Why bother?
  14. Here’s a great example of a brand doing it well. Currys is brilliant at it and this detailed guide to 4k TVs shows. As you can see it’s really in-depth on an in depth subject areas as it goes on.
  15. And on.
  16. And on.
  17. The site is full of brilliant niche buying guides that answer key questions being asked by their audience.
  18. We can see here just how well that works by looking at rankings for 4k TVs…
  19. And the effect this approach has had on their search vis…
  20. Thanks for listening. The full transcript can be found on our site and a supporting post is live now on the Moz blog.

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Digital PR 101 – How to get more journalists to accept your content Thu, 02 Apr 2015 08:06:10 +0000 How to get more journalists to accept your content – the holy grail of digital PR! Despite seeming like a pretty basic pre-requisite for digital PR execs, this is not actually as easy as it sounds. The skills involved in securing regular quality placements set great digital PR execs apart from average ones. There are […]

The post Digital PR 101 – How to get more journalists to accept your content appeared first on Zazzle Media.

How to get more journalists to accept your content – the holy grail of digital PR! Despite seeming like a pretty basic pre-requisite for digital PR execs, this is not actually as easy as it sounds. The skills involved in securing regular quality placements set great digital PR execs apart from average ones.

There are two things that need to be done well to ensure journalists accept your digital content time and time again. These two elements go hand in hand – think of them as the yin and yang of securing great placements.

They are:

  • Quality content
  • Professional and targeted outreach methods

Without both, you will struggle to get journalists and site owners to regularly accept your digital content.

As, is often the way with digital agencies, content strategists will come up with the content that will eventually be outreached by digital PR execs. Joined up thinking is required right from idea conception to ensure the content stands the best chance of being picked up by journalists and site owners further down the line.

This blog post includes some quick tips and insight on how to nail these two elements and ensure journalists accept your content.

Quality content

To start with, the content needs to be quality, relevant, and relatable/engaging. Achieve these three important factors and you will have a running start when trying to secure quality placements.

Quality content doesn’t just spring from nowhere; content strategists need to put the groundwork into research and creative processes. Here are a few guidelines to ensure your content is something journalists will want to publish.

Do your homework:
Planning ahead is important. Researching events that are relevant to a client’s industry will help ensure you are talking about it before it’s happening. This industry knowledge will also give you the time to plan and prepare content so it is timely and relevant.

Tools such as Buzzsumo are a quick way to see what type of content is getting the most social shares.

Buzz Sumo 

Ahrefs is also a great tool that you can use to see what’s currently trending online.

Hrefs Trending Content

Google Trends allows you to see how often a particular search-term is typed into Google. This information is relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.

 Google Trends

Use these helpful tools to inform your content. If certain types or are popular and getting attention online – look at ways you could make your content more like them. If a particular topic or theme is working really well, take inspiration from it. Remember, there is a reason this content is doing so well online – learn from it.

Involve the right people:
Involving key members of the wider digital team in the content creation process is important. PR execs, designers, developers, content writers all need to be consulted in order to ensure any potential issues are highlighted early on.

The digital PR team’s input is crucial at this stage as they will be able to advise whether a piece of content has the potential or a sufficient news angle for them pitch into journalists.

All to often, different teams work in silos. As quality content is so crucial to securing great online placements, collaborative contribution is essential to get the content right for pitching. No one knows what journalists are likely to go for more than the people who have direct contact with them every day – the PR execs. It makes sense to include them in discussions from the beginning.

Understand your target market:
An important part of creating quality content is understanding the people you are trying to target and the channels they use to consume content. A solid understanding of these issues through the creation of content personas will ensure your content is relevant and gives your target audience as many reasons as possible to engage with it.

The content you plan to pitch needs to consider these target consumers, their motivations in life and work, ages, hobbies, how they consume information, etc.

Without content personas you run the risk of jumping into content creation from a limited perspective, which will result in boring content. Without understanding what types of content your target personas engage with, and where, the information simply won’t reach them, let alone be engaged with. Without agreeing on clear, personas content also runs the risk of being inconsistent and ineffective over time.

A great tool to help you do this effectively is Yougov profiler. Simply type in a brand and you can glean information on the brand’s typical consumer’s age, location in the UK, political persuasion, typical profession, monthly spare to spend, etc.

YouGov Profiler

Professional and targeted outreach methods

Once you have the piece of quality, relevant and engaging content, it’s time to put targeted outreach methods in to play and get the fantastic content placed on high profile sites.

Below is a guide on how to do this, well.

Find exactly who you need to contact:
Thinking back to you content personas, you may have established some typical characteristics of your key audience – now it’s time to match these up to online sources they are likely to engage with.

Make the sites you approach fit with the content you have to pitch. Think, how or why will the content benefit the readers of this site? The answer to this question should determine whether the site is worth approaching or not.

Do your research and find the journalist or site contributor who edits the topic/s your content focuses on. Databases such as Vocus will help you drill down within a website’s journalistic team to find the right person to contact.


Social media is also a good place to locate site contributors and find out what they are interested in.

#journorequest is a simple but effective way of finding out what journalists are actively looking for right now. It’s worth keeping an eye on this in case any opportunities crop up.

LinkedIn is often overlooked as an effective tool to find and connect with site contributors. Comment on group discussions, and add engaging comments to journalists’ posts to help you get to know the type of content particular journalists prefer. Knowledge of a recently shared article is also worth mentioning in any subsequent pitch. It shows you are on the ball and up to date with content produced by your target journalists.

Make them listen:
So, you have a great piece of content and a shortlist of site owners and journalists you want to target. Now you need them to take notice of you.

A succinct and personalised pitch with a hook will help. Sounds simple? It’s not as easy as you think and it’s definitely worth putting in the groundwork here too.

Tie in a relevant and newsworthy angle into your pitch. Is there a current or trending news story you could somehow work in? For example, if you are outreaching a piece of content that offers financial information or advice, do some research into recent financial news or announcements and reference these to add another layer of relevance.

Take a look at the site you would like to see the content placed on too. Under which tab or on which part of the site would it fit well? Making reference to this in your pitch shows you have done your homework and puts a case to the site contributor as to why their readers would be interested in your content.

Sit back and relax:
Only joking. You’ve pitched your great content well, now it’s time to put the real work in.

Journalists are busy people and just hoping your content stands out from the rest simply isn’t good enough. Follow up with an email and a phone call. Phone calls often work better at this stage, as rather than clogging up an email inbox, you can speak to the person in question and get direct feedback.

Google Sidekick is a handy tool that allows you to see if the recipient of your email has opened it and clicked on a link within it. This can help you time your follow up calls to best effect.

A positive ‘no’:
If a site contributor decides not to use your content – use this as positive. No, they haven’t used your content this time but you have made a new contact or refreshed correspondence with an old one for future pitches.

Any feedback given as to why the content is not for a particular site is helpful to inform pitches you are currently working on, and any future ones too.

Background networking and meet-ups:
Part of a digital PR exec’s workload involves actively making contact with site owners and journalists – even if they don’t have any current content for them.

Finding journalists who work for sites within your current clients’ industries and any potential future client’s target lists is really beneficial. Arranging to attend networking events, which you know some key people may be at, or organising a coffee meeting with a journalist you would like to work with in the future, can go a long way in establishing a solid working relationship that could be mutually beneficial for years to come.


Both quality content and innovative, professional outreach skills are required in order to build and develop relationships with journalists. Without quality content, journalists will take one look at your pitch and dismiss it (and potentially any other future pitches you make) – no matter how well you sell it in.

Quality content is all well and good, but without an ever-growing black book of journalists with which you have good relationships to pitch it to, outreaching will be much more difficult.

Outreach needs to be innovative and tailored to your audience in order to be successful, two things that should also be mirrored in the content you are pitching. The longevity of relationships with journalists is based just as much on the quality of content you provide them with as the pitch you use.

In summary, ensuring you have quality content and innovative outreach skills will pay dividends over time, as together, both will breed mutually reliable, trustworthy and professional relationships with journalists.

The post Digital PR 101 – How to get more journalists to accept your content appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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Who Won Social this April Fools Day? Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:22:06 +0000 April Fools’ Day has become one of the most important dates in the social media calendar and this year has been no different.   Social media professionals will be either reaping the rewards from the planning and execution process put into April’s flagship content or panicking over a cringe worthy effort that has tanked. Now […]

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April Fools’ Day has become one of the most important dates in the social media calendar and this year has been no different.


Social media professionals will be either reaping the rewards from the planning and execution process put into April’s flagship content or panicking over a cringe worthy effort that has tanked.

Now we’re not going to be all hipster about what constitutes good and bad April Fools’ Day content, that’s for you to decide, but we will share with you five examples that made us smile!

Domino’s Pizza – #DomiNoDriver

Domino’s went all out this year and created a computer-generated vine. Could this be a slight dig at Amazon’s delivery drones?

Lidl – Money On Voucher


Lidl is always good value (pardon the pun) on Twitter, we refer you back to the One Direction Easter Egg tweet, and here it has managed to put across its brand values whilst also tackling the “it’s better because it costs more” myth.

Google – Google Panda

Being an SEO agency, when we saw Google and Panda in our timelines this morning we did panic a little bit. Google knew it would provoke this reaction with all digital marketers, so they produced this tongue-in-cheek Google Panda teddy bear that rewards your search with hugs.

It even produced this Steve Jobs style product launch!

ASOS – Clip-in Man Bun


ASOS took on the haircut that divides opinion on a Jeremy Clarkson level! This spoof tweet definitely hit all the right notes with their audience.

Tesco – Bouncy Aisles

Tesco rarely misses out on a round up of successful reactive tweets and to make sure it was included in this one it recruited ex-TOWIE girl Lucy Mecklenburgh.

It definitely took April Fools’ Day seriously this year supporting this with a paid promotion campaign and help from Lucy’s 1.58million Twitter followers.

Brace yourself

So there we are – social media on April Fools’ Day 2015 in a nutshell.

Whether you love reactive content or hate it, there’s no denying its impact. Expect to see more and more brands join in to reap the benefits of gullible tweeters on days like this.

Now might be a good time to give you a friendly reminder that we won’t have to wait long for the next batch of reactive content – It’s Easter on Sunday. Brace yourself for some eggcellently punny content.

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Brainstorming your way to Success Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:28:52 +0000 Yesterday afternoon in a sun-lit, graffiti adorned meeting room known as Tracey Island (yes, we know, we spelled it wrong) a disparate band of Zazzlers gathered around a pile of brightly coloured Post-It Notes, magazines, laptops and a whiteboard…just thinking. Some lounged on beanbags, some bounced on gym balls, all of us had a look […]

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Yesterday afternoon in a sun-lit, graffiti adorned meeting room known as Tracey Island (yes, we know, we spelled it wrong) a disparate band of Zazzlers gathered around a pile of brightly coloured Post-It Notes, magazines, laptops and a whiteboard…just thinking. Some lounged on beanbags, some bounced on gym balls, all of us had a look of deep concentration. We were having the first of three brainstorm meetings scheduled for the day, and the air was thick with creativity.

Brainstorm. Thought shower. Groupthink. Meeting of minds…

Whatever your organisation calls these gatherings; you’ll undoubtedly have been involved in one or two at some point during your professional career.

Brainstorming is defined as: A group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from an individual or all members of the group. It helps you develop creative solutions to a problem and is particularly useful when you need divergent thinking to break out of stale thinking patterns.

When done well, the collective power of the group’s creativity could be the conduit to something wonderful. Done badly, the brainstorm meeting will quickly descend into chaos, with attendees feeling under pressure to conform and original ideas being crushed by lengthy discussions about whether they’re viable or not.

Good brainstorming takes practice and skill in order to avoid them becoming meaningless time-traps that add little value.

As the saying goes: one person does not make a team, and in order to give our clients the best and most successful strategies possible we need to harness the collective brainpower of the wider Zazzle team; ideally from a number of different departments with a different set of interests, priorities and passions. This ensures our strategies have depth, colour and a range of contrasting angles and avenues to explore.

Therefore, we hold lots and lots (and lots) of brainstorm meetings, and have learned some valuable lessons about the right and wrong way to do it.

The right people for the job

The first and most important consideration for any brainstorm organiser is to decide who is going to attend. Whilst you might be tempted to invite your entire organisation (safety in numbers, right?) I have found that any more than between 6-7 participants becomes difficult to manage and you’ll find yourself in one of two situations; neither of them desirable:

1) He who shouts loudest – One or two people take over the meeting and put forward a couple of perfectly good, but obvious suggestions. The rest of the group (feeling under pressure to perform and conform) spend their time brainstorming around these first couple of ideas, not wanting to be the one to think outside the box and say something ‘crazy’.
2) No one shouts at all – The sheer volume of the group scares everyone into complete silence; no-one wants to be the first to speak so, as meeting organiser, you throw a few ideas into the arena to get things moving. Everyone nods and smiles at you, relieved they no longer have to speak out. The meeting ends.

Think carefully about the topic you’ll be brainstorming and think about the skills and interests of the people you have at your ‘disposal’. However, don’t be tempted to only invite people who have expressed a deep and vested expertise in the subject up for discussion – some of the best ideas come from people with no prior experience in resolving the problem at hand. I would suggest a good mix of knowledgeable and novice is ideal.

Make sure they’re prepared – allow time for the ‘solo-brainstorm’

Research suggests that often the most creative people are introverts, and introverts are often much more creative when they’re allowed to ponder a problem in privacy, free from interruption.

In fact, even extroverts would find it difficult to be summoned into a meeting room with no prior warning, given a problem and have someone demand that they solve it there and then. It’s little wonder that this method usually fails to uncover any new or original ideas as, when put under pressure, our creative brains switch off and we go into auto-pilot – searching for the first and most obvious solution without having the time and thinking space to do anything else.

I always supply brainstorm attendees with a bullet point list of short, succinct information prior to any meeting: At the very least outline the problem, the goal and let people know what will be expected of them. If you want everyone to come armed with at least one great idea ready to share, then tell them this in advance. You’ll usually find that given this opportunity they’ll have loads of good ideas they’ll happily share with the group.

Lay down the ground rules – no fear

The most obvious, but most commonly overlooked rule of any brainstorm is that there is no such thing as a bad idea. If you find yourself chairing a brainstorm meeting then you must live and die by this rule – whatever weird and wonderful, mumbo jumbo ideas spill from your attendees’ mouths you must take note of them, smile encouragingly and wait for someone else to take that image and build on it. Trust me, it will happen.

Everybody has an in-built fear of being ‘wrong’ and this fear is one of the primary hurdles to us consistently performing at our creative best. But here’s a fact: There is no wrong and right when it comes to creativity.

At the start of each and every brainstorm, remind people that the meeting room you have gathered in is a ‘safe’ zone. Free from ridicule, mistakes and errors. What happens in Tracey Island stays in Tracey Island. Each and every idea provided is a valuable one – and the more ideas the better. This is a numbers game.

It’s also important to remember that absolutely no one will be allowed to discuss the viability of any ideas put forward during the session – this isn’t the forum for this. At the time of the brainstorm, every idea is completely possible at this stage.

Filter your ideas – Utilise data

As a creative ‘luvvy’ type, you might think that data is not for you. Too complicated, too organised and very likely to stifle your demiurgic mo-jo. I certainly did once upon a time.

However, you must learn to love data and make it your friend as without it you run the risk of completely going off on a tangent, mistakenly believing that an article about rainbows and butterflies is completely suitable for a client selling security alarms (I exaggerate of course!)

Some data should be shared with your meeting delegates prior to the brainstorm (see section: make sure they’re prepared) – but avoid overloading them with ‘facts’ that could cloud and stifle their innovation. Using these ‘facts’ to filter through the ideas post-meeting is your job.

Data lies at the heart of everything we do at Zazzle Media, but there is a fine balance to be had. I’m a firm believer that creativity must be nurtured and cultivated away from the constraints of spreadsheets and algorithms, but how do you know whether the suggestions you’re putting forward will work? What’s the goal? Will they solve the problem? Will anyone else like them? What’s the measure of success?

Creativity won’t give you these answers; data will.

Don’t be afraid of silences

Silences in a group setting can be incredibly uncomfortable, but are an essential part of the creative process.

A moment or two of quiet gives people valuable thinking time; for example, how many times has a great idea come to you while you’re in the shower, driving, or lying quietly in bed? Allowing yourself a moment or two of unspeaking calm, away from distraction, seems to unlock an artistic part of your brain that would be unobtainable otherwise.

You’ll find that periods of silence are usually followed by great eruptions of conversation. Don’t fear them.

Have a deadline & wrap up on a positive

Every brainstorm should have a time limit and you must be mindful of sticking to it as much as possible. I would suggest half an hour is an ideal time limit – unless by this time the team are still quick-firing suggestions, in which case extend the meeting by 5-10 minutes.

If there is still more to say, you need more ideas, or feel there are still unexplored avenues, then hold a second (more focussed) meeting at a later date.

Learn for next time

Every day is a school day, and brainstorm meetings offer the ideal learning ground. Who performed well and who seemed intimidated? What brainstorm method worked best? Did people appear more energised when they were standing or sitting? Do afternoons work better than mornings?

Don’t be afraid to test different methods and groups of people to establish what works best for you and your organisation.

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Paid Social Audience Targeting: The Revolution Continues Fri, 20 Mar 2015 11:10:27 +0000 The ability to specifically target a brand’s ‘perfect customer’ at the precise point a purchasing decision is about to be made is marketing Nirvana. That dream moved a step closer to being reality this month as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all unveiled exciting new ad products that promise to take targeting to whole new levels […]

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The ability to specifically target a brand’s ‘perfect customer’ at the precise point a purchasing decision is about to be made is marketing Nirvana.

That dream moved a step closer to being reality this month as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all unveiled exciting new ad products that promise to take targeting to whole new levels of precision.

In true Zazzle style we’ve spent hours looking at how this triage of new opportunities can feed into the wider content marketing and social mix and below we run through our initial findings. 

Twitter Partner Audiences

First up is Twitter’s exciting new Partner Audiences product.

This feature will enable advertisers to target Promoted Tweets to users who have shown purchase intent away from Twitter. Marketers will be able to select from over 1000 audiences, so they can target audiences like “coffee buyers” or luxury items at audiences earning a specific income.

Twitter have teamed with data giants Acxiom and Datalogix to create over 1,000 partner audiences that marketers can target, matching its users to people in the partner databases by using hashed email addresses associated with Twitter accounts.

In a blog post announcing the feature, Kyle Boston, a Product Manager for Revenue at Twitter writes:

“For example, by using a partner to provide the desired audience, an auto brand can connect with audiences that are in-market for a new car. A CPG company can reach customers that have previously purchased products in their category. And luxury brands can limit campaigns to shoppers who earn a household income above a certain threshold.”

Twitter have been testing this feature with a few major brands recently, including Nestle, who, according the Twitter blog are happy with the results. Using the data through partner audiences, Nestle targeted buyers of peanut butter related products with their new Butterfinger Cup Minis.

There are huge opportunities to use this kind of data. Partner Audiences help to narrow down the target audience when promoting tweets, based on purchase behaviour as opposed to solely making assumptions based on interests. Targeting people who have actually purchased something will lead to much more effective advertising through the social network.

An health food brand, for instance, could use Partner Audiences to target people who actually purchase ‘Dairy-Free’ to promote a new product, with the knowledge that they are more likely to engage with it.


This latest addition to Twitter’s advertising products Twitter’s is comparable to Facebook, who launched a similar feature 2 years ago, with the same data partners Acxiom and Datalogix as well as Epsilon.

While privacy will always remain a hot topic, Twitter users can opt out by going to privacy settings and unticking the box “Tailor ads based on information shared by ad partners.”

The new feature is available now to marketers in the US and can be accessed through the behaviours section of the Twitter Ads Dashboard.

These features are currently only available to those advertising in the United States, and can be accessed by all those using Twitter advertising through the behaviours section of the Twitter Ads Dashboard. It will be interesting to see if similar functionality is made available in the UK in the future.

Facebook Topic Data

The big announcement from Facebook is the introduction of Topic Data. Partnering with leading social data platform, DataSift, Facebook will allow privacy safe access to its goldmine of status updates through its new insights product “Topic Data”.

In an announcement on the Facebook business blog the social network explains that

“Topic data shows marketers what audiences are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities, all in a way that keeps personal information private. Marketers use the information from topic data to make better decisions about how they market on Facebook and other channels, and build product roadmaps.”

Facebook advertising has always led the way in terms of targeting options and audience insights, using the wealth of information that its users openly add to their personal profiles and pages that they like. Until now though, there has been no access to status updates, as much of Facebook’s data is private.

The topic data will be completely anonymized and aggregated in the same way that all other insights data is, so as not to disclose any information that could personally identify someone. Alongside this, topic data will not provide a result unless at least 100 different users match to protect privacy. Marketers won’t have access to specific users, or be able to target those based on mentions of certain terms, but they will be able to set ads to appear to people in similar demographics.

Examples given by Facebook for how marketers can use this new data include:

  • A fashion retailer can see the clothing items its target audience is talking about to decide which products to stock.
  • A brand can see how people are talking about their brand or industry to measure brand sentiment.

Access to this new data is available through undisclosed limited 3rd party analytics providers, working with DataSift to turn the data queries into meaningful insights for marketers.

We are looking to forward to testing out this new data to better understand audiences, both from an advertising perspective and to fuel our content strategy.

Instagram Clickable Carousel Ads

Instagram have never had clickable URLS, whether ads or not. Even when they introduced ads in October 2013, these have always been for branding and influence purposes.

The new update will, for the first time, allow clickable links when scrolling through your Instagram feed. Only available through their new product, multi-photo Carousel Ads, the ‘Learn More’ button will open up the URL in an internal browser, allowing users to easily get back to their photo feed.

This is a completely new advertising product from Instagram, which will allow marketers to add up to 4 branded images, which users can scroll through, alongside the ‘Learn More’ button. Clickable URLs will not be added to existing ad products, or organic Instagram posts.

In an announcement on the Instagram business blog: 

“One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a ‘look.’ A car company might share an array of different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model. Or, an advertiser could showcase how multiple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal.”

This balancing of user experience with demands of advertisers, who want to see more meaningful business results, is the latest update to advertising on Instagram, and may now make it more of a viable option to marketers looking to spend on the platform.

Social advertising is advancing as advertisers are looking for alternative options to reach their audience. The wealth of information that people share on social networks means the options for targeting the most relevant ads to the right people are huge. These recent updates from Facebook and Twitter provide marketers and strategists with new ways to capture data and insight, to not only advertise, but also to understand the audience and inform social and content strategies. The update from Instagram to include clickable URLs in some of its advertising products makes the photo-sharing platform an option for many more businesses.

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Technology is only as good as the story > Ann Handley Interview Thu, 12 Mar 2015 13:38:35 +0000 For all the different methods of marketing, blogging, videos, podcasts and other modes of transmission, Ann Handley is certain of one thing; they won’t work if the content itself doesn’t stand up. It’s the theme of her Wall Street Journal Bestseller ‘Everybody writes: Your Go-to-Guide to creating Ridiculously Good Content’, based on years of authoring […]

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For all the different methods of marketing, blogging, videos, podcasts and other modes of transmission, Ann Handley is certain of one thing; they won’t work if the content itself doesn’t stand up. It’s the theme of her Wall Street Journal Bestseller ‘Everybody writes: Your Go-to-Guide to creating Ridiculously Good Content’, based on years of authoring and managing digital content to build relationships for organisations and individuals. It’s the latest book in a career that has seen her assume the roles of chief content officer of MarketingProfs; a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine; a LinkedIn influencer; a keynote speaker, mum, and writer.

Describe your role in one sentence

I am waging a war on content marketing mediocrity.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on answering this question. :)

Also: I’m working with MarketingProf’s own Kerry Gorgone on developing a MarketingProfs marketing writing workshop, based on the best-selling Everybody Writes.

What’s the best thing about your job, and what are the most frustrating things?

Best part: There’s a lot to love… but fundamentally I love the autonomy of working from home, especially because I work with a team I love.

Worst part: Working from home in Boston today, where it’s 1 degree outside (wind chill -24) and there is a 7-foot snow bank outside my door. I’m not built for this much snow and cold – physically or emotionally.

If you had three short pieces of advice for a young content creator, what would they be?

  • Learn to write ridiculously well.
  • Create content because you love it, not because you get paid for it.
  • Focus on your audience. Remember the sage advice of longtime writing teacher Donald Murray: “The reader doesn’t turn the page because of a hunger to applaud.”

What’s the best piece of work you’ve done and why?

My latest book, Everybody Writes. My heart and soul is in that book – I’ve never worked harder on anything else.

If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be and why?

David Sedaris: Because he’s one of my all-time favourite authors. He’s known for being a hilarious writer, but his work is also soulful and surprisingly sad. I’d be happy with just sitting down for a coffee. Dinner might be weird.

EB White, because he had one foot in narrative nonfiction, one foot in fiction, and one foot in Maine, my second favourite state after Massachusetts. That makes him sound weirdly three-footed. But you catch my drift.

My mom and dad, because they died before I became a grown-up. Obviously I long for more than a dinner with them both. Technically that makes it four people to have dinner with, not three. But if cost is an issue I’m happy to go half.

You have a journalistic background – how has that helped in the world of marketing?

Journalists are the only people, in my mind, who put the needs of the audience first. Marketing needs more customer-centric content, not corporate-centric content.

What key skills does an entrepreneur need?

How did it feel to be named as the most influential woman in social media by Forbes? Who were/are your main influences in life?

I’m grateful for every list I’m on and for every recognition I receive – who doesn’t like to be recognised for their work?

But at the same time, it’s a kind of trap that can lull you into an exaggerated sense of your own value. I know in my heart when I’ve done well and when I haven’t – when I got lazy or didn’t push as hard as I should have to produce my best work. Ultimately, that’s all that really matters. That might sound simulated – like a feigned modesty – but it’s not.

My influencers:

  • My dad, for his work ethic.
  • My Uncle Frank, an old-time newsroom guy who first put the idea in my six-year-old head that I could be a writer.
  • Sean Gresh, a professor in my college communications class, who reinforced in me the truth that those who learn to write well will be successful at whatever they choose to do.
  • Nena Groskind, my first boss at Warren Publishing, for believing in me when I was kind of a young idiot!

You’re a busy person – how do you find the time to juggle your work, websites, business engagements and family life?

It’s a holiday Monday here, and I am typing this as quietly as I can in the early-morning hours, so as not to wake up anyone still sleeping. And so there’s your answer, I suppose.

I also don’t compartmentalise things quite as neatly into boxes – my family will sometimes accompany me on work trips. I collaborate often with my longtime partner. My speaking benefits MarketingProfs. So there’s a lot of crossover.

What’s your proudest achievement to date?

Professional: I’m very proud of the work the team here at MarketingProfs has done. We’ve been a leader in the digital marketing space longer than most, and our content, training and education programmes continue to evolve in a way that makes me want to daily group hug our entire staff.

Personal: My kids, who are growing into exactly the kind of people I could ever want them to be.

Give us one prediction for marketing for 2015/16

The frenzy over marketing technologies recedes as we realise that any technology is only as good as the story it helps us tell.

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How to QC Written Content Fri, 06 Mar 2015 09:38:47 +0000 Anyone who has kept a close eye on the challenges experienced by local and regional newspapers over the last five years or so will have little hesitation in nominating the specific job role which appears to have been more vulnerable than all others. The sub-editor. Once the guardians of the English language, or the ‘grammar […]

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Anyone who has kept a close eye on the challenges experienced by local and regional newspapers over the last five years or so will have little hesitation in nominating the specific job role which appears to have been more vulnerable than all others. The sub-editor.

Once the guardians of the English language, or the ‘grammar police’, the sub-editors were that layer of protection between journalist and editor. Doing the dirty work, as it were. Identifying errors, spelling mistakes, literals; checking facts and references; reducing or increasing word count; re-writing passages of text. The sub-editor was the safety net for the more creative, and sometimes less attentive, colleague.

Increasingly, as staffing models have developed, the sub editor has come under threat. Not entirely extinct, of course: there will always be newspapers, and magazines which have designated sub editors, tasked not with creating copy but ensuring the accuracy and relevance of what is in it. But increasingly, the responsibility is being passed to those who create the material in the first place.

It’s down to the writer, the journalist, the content editor, to stand by the copy they produce.

In the digital world, this close eye for detail is critical. Very often, text – whether that be a guest post, blog, feature or online category content – is created and published almost immediately. Writing a 500-word article for a website, ready and waiting to publish it, can be a one-take deal. It needs to be correct, first time.

At Zazzle Media, what might be called ‘subbing’ or ‘proofing’ is referred to as our QC process. I can’t think of anything more apt than that, for what we do, essentially, it is assess all work and make sure it passes quality control.

The knowledge that yours will be the last pair of eyes to view the content before it’s published should guarantee close attention to detail and a meticulous approach. What follows are a few useful suggestions and guidelines you may find helpful when you’re next in the QC hot seat.

Disclaimer: if you spot any errors in this content, they’ve been inserted deliberately as a test, of course.

It’s v Its

The recurring error I read more than anything else, closely followed by ‘you’re v your’ and ‘they’re v there’. It’s maddening because once you understand the distinction, you’ve got it for life – but so many writers are repeat offenders. The official rule is that it’s is a contraction – short for it is – and its is a possessive pronoun. But it’s sometimes simpler to read these out in full as you QC – as in ‘it is obvious’ – which should help to establish which version to use. Eg: ‘please put that book back in it is place’. Clearly its needs to be used in this case. Or ‘get you are coat’ – get your coat is the correct version, not get you’re coat.

Don’t rely on spell check…

Yes, the Spelling and Grammar function available on Word is a neat little tool and, by all means, run it through every piece of copy – but don’t rely on it. It will pick (though I typed pic first as a test and it completely ignored the mistake) up on some errors, but it’s not conclusive. Typically, the tool is set for US English too, so be careful here. It won’t recognise the proper spelling of many place names. And it won’t assist in the quest to distinguish ‘you’re and your’. For example, when I typed in ‘get you are coat’ in the paragraph above and ran the spell checker, Word totally missed it. The tool also won’t notice missing words, either. Use it as a quick initial skim before knuckling down to the hard yards yourself.

… or other technological ‘cheats’

A pet hate of mine is the ‘Justify Text’ layout option found on Word. Select it, and your text will spread evenly across the page and remove any dreaded ‘widows’ – the term for lonely letters sitting at the very end of a line, such as ‘A’ at the start of a new sentence. However, it’s the choice of the lazy proofer, in my opinion. Justifying text creates an unnatural range of spacing, and if you add one or two new words into a line it can cause a stretching effect which looks awful on paper and not much better on a website. Don’t select this option, please.

Read headers and sub-headers out loud

The human eye can’t always pick up on mistakes at a glance and it can be tricked. This is why, despite being the most prominent text in any article, you’ll sometimes see glaring errors in a headline – exposed, to a greater extent, by a larger and bolder font. If needs be, read a header or sub header out in a staccato style, pronouncing each word clearly.

Be consistent

In a 1,500 word article you might have referred to the same place, brand or title several times. Make sure there is consistency in how this is written, so it’s Twitter in the opening paragraph, Twitter midway through the piece and Twitter in the conclusion. Not Twitter, twitter and Twitter.

Don’t proofread your own writing

If you’re working independently as a blogger or freelance writer, there is little option but to read over your own work. But ideally – when part of a wider content team – a fresh pair of eyes will proof an article. When the writer has been so close to a piece of content, he or she might be unable to identify areas of improvement, may have read it once or twice over already and needs to take a step back.

Check spellings of names

Simple stuff, but never take names at face value. If there’s a guaranteed way of causing offence and upset, it’s to spell someone’s name incorrectly. Always check.
Is it Neil or Neal? Karl or Carl? John or Jon? Matt or Mat? Sarah or Sara? Nikki or Nicky – or Nicki?

Clear some time in your schedule

Create some proper, clear, time in your working schedule to QC content. It’s not a task to be done while you juggle something else, such as taking a phone call or sitting in a meeting. It needs complete attention and a quiet environment; if you’re in a busy office, plug earphones in and use classical music to block out surrounding sounds.

Importantly, if you do get interrupted midway through proofing an article – if a colleague has an urgent question, for example – don’t pick up where you left off. Start again from the top.

It’s not just about mistakes

QCing content is not exclusively about spotting errors and mistakes. You should be assessing the quality of the work on the screen in front of you, ensuring the content flows logically with a suitable introduction and concluding paragraph, and that it’s punctuated properly.

Check the pace of every paragraph. Read it out loud. How does it sound? If it’s too long and rambling, and you’re almost in need of pausing for breath partway through, it’s going to be too much for a reader to digest. Break it up with a full stop or a semi-colon to separate the major elements of the sentence.

On the other hand, avoid sentences which are too short and mechanical. Again, use punctuation to extend them and make them flow. The key is not to show off an extensive knowledge of the English language but to make the copy reader-friendly.

Practise – and read

Finally, as with most other things in life, practice makes – if not perfect – then something close to it. The more time spent honing your QC skills, the more confident and competent you’ll become. And just as all writers are advised to read widely, do the same. Read extensively, learn from the best – see how the Guardian, for example, presents its content – and build your own understanding and education.

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The Actionable Guide to Data-Driven Content Auditing Fri, 27 Feb 2015 10:02:40 +0000 Digital marketers are constantly seeking new ways to increase their website traffic, often looking to third party platforms, new emerging software and other off-site tactics, when the solution is within their existing online assets. In particular, the ability to evaluate and leverage onsite assets such as conversion rate optimisation and website content. I know this […]

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Digital marketers are constantly seeking new ways to increase their website traffic, often looking to third party platforms, new emerging software and other off-site tactics, when the solution is within their existing online assets. In particular, the ability to evaluate and leverage onsite assets such as conversion rate optimisation and website content.

I know this may seem a bit basic for most marketers out there, but you would be surprised how many times I’ve come across businesses that rely heavily on their organic traffic to generate the majority of their sales, yet have never done a content audit.

It’s easily done. I’ve previously worked in an in-house environment, where it’s easy to get bogged down in the usual routine projects and acquisition opportunities. Consequently, some of the more simple tasks are overlooked and not fully leveraged.

Enter the content audit.

“The content audit of a website is the evaluation of all or part of your website content.”

The content audit is one of the best levers a content marketer can pull, without having to send a huge costing proposal past the board.

Quick Content Audit Overview

Here is a bird’s eye view of the whole process:

Step 1 - Crawl site

  • Crawl the site using your favourite crawler. We use/choose Screaming Frog.

Step 2 - Export data

  • Export all URL data from Screaming Frog, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.
  • Don’t forget to run the URLs through URL Profiler to get all the additional metrics for the master Excel doc.

Step 3Analyse data

  • Format the Excel spread sheet to include all important tabs
    • List meta tags on the spreadsheet
    • Links pointing to it (from Majestic, Ahrefs or Web Master Tools)
    • Word count per page
    • Use URL profiler if available
  • Consider focus of the content audit, as this will set out the rest of the audit intensity

Step 4Identify pages and areas of opportunity

  • Use Google Analytics’ data and analyse to identify important pages that need attention (high volume low conversion etc)
  • Complement with WMT data from queries and CTRs to look for opportunities (high impressions and low CTR)

Step 4.1 - Look at your competitors

  • Use SEMrush to look at your competitors’ keywords and pages
  • Run a crawl through URL Profiler or look at Search Metrics data for their ranking pages and compare to your list of content

Step 4.2 – Identify gaps and start content ideation

  • Use SEMrush to look at your competitor keywords and pages
  • Run a crawl through URL Profiler on your competitors and compare the list of content
  • Check keyword research and keyword mapping against your pages
  • Record all new opportunities from the content gap research and the keyword research and list new topics to cover and keywords to reach
  • Start the ideation process
  • Use Buzzsumo to get winning formulas

Step 5 – Set out action list for all pages

  • Work methodically and prioritise work based on the focus of the content audit

How does the content audit help?

We conduct a content audit for many reasons, however some of the main purposes are to:

  • Collate and analyse all existing content of a website onto a central database.

This in turn facilitates more efficient future content audits

  • Identify overlapping and similar pages and set out a strategy to consolidate or rewrite them
  • Identify which pages need re-editing
  • Prioritise content pages
    1. Grouping and identifying pages by search and user intent
    2. Highlighting them by current volume of traffic
  • Highlighting the best performing pages by all metrics (visits, page views, bounce rates, conversions …)
  • Aid the keyword mapping process

Which pages need optimising for which keywords

  • Identify content gap opportunities

What pages are getting a lot of impression but not many clicks, or having many visits but a high bounce rate …

  • Improve the URL structure

Helps to form a good view of the current URL structure of any website and fuels its improvement. In turn this provides a better experience for the user, which feeds back into the content KPIs such as improved page bounce rate, higher engagement rates and so on.

  • Help with setting out your link building strategy

Listing the links pointing to each page forms a good picture of the link building strategy and helps to set out the future strategy.

  • Better audience engagement

As mentioned above by providing better, more up-to-date and relevant content, you will engage with your online audience and improve conversion rates.

  • Identify your most socially shared content

You may be surprised to find out which pages or posts have been shared and at what rate. This will enable you redevelop these pages or use the formula to create more shareable content.

  • Improve meta tags

You’ll get a chance to evaluate your title tags with a glance, especially those of your key pages. Let’s not forget they’re still one of the most important and powerful on-page SEO elements.

And the list goes on…

When is a good time to do a content audit?

There are many instances when you may consider doing a content audit.

Here, at Zazzle Media, it is embedded into our daily processes. I strongly recommend the content audit central database is created as soon as you build a website. Then, all you have to do is keep working from the same template, updating it regularly.

Some other distinct symptoms that one can use to diagnose when a content audit is well and truly overdue, are listed below:

  1. Bounce rate is up
  2. Conversions from important pages are not happening as before or not as expected
  3. Page views per session are going down
  4. Time spent on page is going down
  5. CTR on SERPs is going down despite being on the same ranking position (data via Webmaster Tools)
  6. Your competition is getting far more visitors from organic
  7. Your organic visibility or keyword reach is much lower than your competitors
  8. You’re not showing for important or long tail keywords but your competitors are

And, again, the list goes on and on . . .

The content audit process and how to conduct an agile (achievable) content audit

Many industry specialists have written about the best ways to conduct a content audit. But, as someone who has worked in-house and now for an agency, I would like to share with you an agile approach that works, whatever environment you are in.

Tools Required

Tools needed are:

  1. A crawler such as Screaming Frog or Xenu’s Link Sleuth
  2. Access to your Google Webmaster Tools
  3. Access to your Google Analytics account
  4. Access to URL Profiler
  5. Microsoft Excel / G Docs Spreadsheets
  6. SEMrush – The keyword & competitor research tool

Content Audit Phase 1 – The Crawl

First of all I use my favourite frog. Screaming Frog of course J

NOTE: If you have the free version of Screaming Frog it has a limit of 500 URLs per crawl and you will have to upgrade to crawl more. A tip to help you work around this limitation is to enter just subfolders of the site, such as, which means you will still be able crawl the site, but only in smaller portions.

Simply enter your full domain into the address bar in the crawler as shown below and hit ‘Start’.

Start Screaming Frog

Depending on how big your website is, this may be time to enjoy a cup of coffee while the frog does its magic.

If you have the full licence and your site is very large you can simply choose the areas you want to crawl.


Configure Screaming Frog


For a full guide and tips on Screaming Frog check out its page here

Content Audit Phase 2 – Export from all sources

Export all the URLs from Screaming Frog.

Filter by HTML only and export into Excel.


This export will give you most of the data you need for the audit spreadsheet:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • H1s
  • H2s
  • Page size
  • Word count
  • Meta robots
  • Canonical elements
  • Page level and more

Export URL data from Google Analytics.

Under the tab ‘Behaviour’, on the sidebar hit ‘All Pages’ as shown here.


Export these into Excel.

NOTE: Currently, only up to 500 rows of Analytics table data can be exported at a time into CSV format. If you need to export larger data sets you can use the workaround below.

  1. In the report you want to export, set the ‘Show Rows’ selector to 500. The report URL will update with this information at the end: explorer-table.rowCount%3D500, (500 at the end of the string indicates the number of rows displayed in the report).
  1. Change the value of the explorer-table.rowCount parameter to the number of rows you want to export.

Example: explorer-table.rowCount%3D1000

  1. Press the ‘Enter’ key to load that URL into the browser.
  2. Visually confirm that the report now has the new parameter appended to it. While there won’t be any visible difference in user interface, exporting will now yield more rows.
  3. Select the ‘Export’ tab and click ‘CSV option’ (this is the only format option that works).

The exported data should contain all the rows you indicated in the URL.

Once you have the entire URL list in Excel, place these into the URL Profiler and get all the data that is important to evaluate your content for you.


Image credit: URL profiler guys

We usually stick with these metrics:

  1. Majestic’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow(You can have Ahrefs or Moz if you like)
  2. External backlinks
  3. Referring domains
  4. Social shares
  5. Page speed (you will need a free Google API code)
  6. Robots access
  7. Moz data
  8. Analytics data (you can connect to your analytics account through API)

URL Profiler

Export from Google Webmaster Tools

Once logged into GWT, head to ‘Search Queries’ and export both tabs – Search Queries report and the Pages report.


These will help you identify areas of opportunity for certain queries and the pages that are receiving most of the clicks/generating most of the traffic to your website.


Content Audit Phase 3 – Data Ordering and Analysis

Always consider the focus of the content audit, as this will determine the rest of the audit intensity.

I’m all for going after the lower hanging fruit first and then adding as you go along or, if you have time, you can add as much data as you like, but be careful you do not become distracted and side-tracked by the volume.

Now you have all the URLs and all the data from the URL Profiler you can then collate all of these on the one master Excel spreadsheet.

Start ordering the data and include some of these tabs:

  • URL (Screaming Frog)
  • Page title (Screaming Frog)
  • Meta descriptions (Screaming Frog)
  • H1 (Screaming Frog)
  • External backlinks (URL Profiler)
  • Trust & Citation Flow (URL Profiler)
  • Visits (Analytics)
  • Bounce rate (Analytics)
  • Time on page (Analytics)
  • Conversions from page (Analytics)
  • Page entry and exit rate (Analytics)
  • Page type (page, blog, landing page, press release, etc)
  • Social shares (URL Profiler)

You may also want to include some extra tabs including:

  • Action

This is the tab where you will decide the action to be taken for the page. Usually there are few choices here.

You can either:

  • Improve page content
  • Remove it (301, canonicalise, no index, merge it with another page etc)
  • Take no action and leave the page as it is
  • Comments

Expand on the details in action including the removal strategy (301, canonical etc).

  • Priority

Depending on the current amount of clicks, impressions and overall importance and growth opportunity the page represents, score this from 1-5 to help you prioritise these changes in batches depending on their respective priorities.

Analyse this data by all the metrics now on the spreadsheet and if you were able to append the query data from Webmaster Tools also try to identify the lower hanging fruit and deal with these first.

Look out for things like:

  • High amount of impression and low CTR
  • High amount of visits and low conversion rates
  • High amount of visits and short time on page
  • High bounce rates (if it’s not a one page landing page J)
  • High exit rate
  • High amount of inbound links but not many visits

Hopefully by now you will have made some decisions and your action points tab is filled along with the comments.

Content Audit Phase 4 – The Content Gap Analysis

To get a decent and quick overview on the content gap analysis, do the following:

  1. Use SEMrush to check your top three competitors.


  1. Look at their keywords (sort by common keywords)


  1. Compare them and make a list of the ones you don’t currently have pages matching with or that can do with optimisation


  1. Also take a peak at their top ranking pages through Search Metrics and then run some of these through the URL Profiler


  1. Things to look out here are:
    1. Word count
    2. Inbound links to the page
    3. Majestic metrics etc

Use these exports to further expand your keyword research and help with your keyword mapping.

For a full and granular guide to the Competitor Audit please check out this article which includes many tips and tricks in finding keywords and pages that your competitors are ranking for.

After you have identified the gaps, start filling the content strategy sheet by using the new keywords the site is currently not ranking for next to the new page ideas.

Look at this content ideation to create awesome shareable content.

Also, once you have the topics, use Buzzsumo to get winning formulas.

Simply head to Buzzsumo and enter the topic and hit search.


Look at the pages that have the most social shares and try to pick out the framework that has contributed to the share success of these pages.


Another alternative to Buzzsumo is the newly released feature form Ahrefs here

Check out the most shared content on the web for your targeted topics, and start building something around the formula you have identified to start generating some serious traffic.


Right, if you’ve made it this far well done. You’re seriously committed and this is a testimony of your perseverance.

(Perseverance + Commitment) *Passion = Explosive Success

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the content audit and how leveraging on-site content can impact/increase organic traffic and ultimately conversion rates by attracting and engaging more users to your website.

Can content audits be overwhelming? Yes, some can, but the rewards far outweigh the negatives.

Let me know your experience of content audits and any useful tips you may like to share.

The post The Actionable Guide to Data-Driven Content Auditing appeared first on Zazzle Media.

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