Google has stopped using authorship completely, even for in-depth articles

Authorship is now officially and completely dead. Gary Illyes from Google said authorship is not used at all at Google anymore.

 
 

The post Google has stopped using authorship completely, even for in-depth articles appeared first on Search Engine Land.

 
 
 
 

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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On-Page SEO 101: Tips for Keyword Optimizing the Most Critical Parts of Your Website

on-page-seo-tips

 

SEO can sometimes feel like it stands for “Something Extremely Obscure.”

 

As marketers, we’re responsible for staying on top of what can feel like endless Google algorithm updates. And if we fail to do so, we run the risk of not showing up in search for important target keywords.

 

But keeping pace with all of those changes isn’t easy. Thankfully, when it comes to achieving SEO success on your website, there’s one rule of thumb that remains a tried-and-tested technique: optimizing your website with relevant and targeted keywords. Download our free on-page SEO template here to help you plan and organize your keyword strategy. 

 

By having a well-optimized site, you’ll start to see results like improved visitor quality, higher conversion rates, and in the end: more closed customers.

 

In this article, I’m going to cover how to add keywords to your website once you’ve already completed your keyword research. So before you dive into this post, be sure to read this awesome blog post on how to do keyword research.

 

Got your keywords ready? Alright. Read on to learn what on-page SEO is, where to add those keywords to your website, and how to avoid search penalties. 

 

What is On-Page SEO?

 

SEO, or search engine optimization, is all about creating content, optimizing it, and promoting it. When we talk about SEO, we often talk about “on-page SEO” and “off-page SEO.”

 

What’s the difference? In short:

 
 
    • On-Page SEO is what a site “says to a search engine.”
 
    • Off-Page SEO is what “other sites say” about a site.
 
 

On-page SEO, or “saying something to a search engine,” means optimizing individual webpages so that they rank higher on search engine results pages. The term covers both the content itself, as well as the HTML source code — both of which can be optimized for search.

 

Off-page SEO, on the other hand, refers to external ranking signals like links.

 

Improving your on-page SEO can help your inbound marketing efforts immensely by helping you attract the right visitors to your website. You want to optimize your pages for search engines so they can understand who you are, what you do, and what you’re writing about. Again, when you improve your on-page SEO, you’ll help increase the organic rank of your website on search engine results pages (SERPs).

 

(HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to use HubSpot’s on-page SEO tool, which is built right into the software.)

 

On-Page SEO Tips to Help Your Webpages Rank Better in Search

 

1) Start with an SEO audit of your website. 

 

Every time you add new site content, you’ll want to create that content with the specific keywords you’re targeting (1–2 per individual webpage) in mind. But if you already have a bunch of webpages published, then your first step will be performing an SEO audit on your current website.

 

An SEO audit will give you an idea of how SEO-friendly your website is overall. That way, you can update and optimize your current content for search starting with your highest-traffic webpages. The audit will also help surface any other issues you may have, like duplicate content, so you can address them immediately and start ranking better in search. 

 

Watch this quick video series to learn how to perform an SEO site audit in detail. It’ll cover how to check whether your site is being blocked by search engines, make sure your XML sitemap is working, monitor and improve site performance, spot and remove internal duplicate content, and check your site’s popularity and trustworthiness.

 

In short, here’s what you’ll need to do:

 
 
    1. Export all of your site pages into an Excel spreadsheet.
 
    1. Sort by the most frequently visited pages. (Learn how to sort in Excel here.)
 
    1. Decide which keyword category each one falls into, and add that category into a column beside the page name.
 
    1. Add another column in your spreadsheet to add more specific keywords that you want to add to that page. Keep in mind that they must be relevant to the content on that page, as well as terms your target audience would be searching for.
 
 

Here’s an example of what this might look like:

 

Keywords_Audit

 

Once you’ve completed this process for all of your pages (or, if you have a ton of pages, at least the most important ones), then you can jump in to your site to start adding keywords.

 

Here are a few other helpful resources for performing SEO audits:

 
 
 
 
 
 

2) Add keywords (naturally) to 5 critical places on your website.

 

In order to optimize your pages for keywords, you’ll need to, well … include those keywords on your site. But not every placement of a keyword is equal: There are certain places on your website that are more optimal than others for on-page SEO.

 

Here’s a list of some of the most important places to optimize for your chosen keywords on your site:

 
 
    • Titles
 
    • Descriptions
 
    • Headings & Content
 
    • Images Titles & Alt Text
 
    • URLs
 
 

If you haven’t optimized these sections of your site in the past, you have some work to do — but it’s up-front work that will pay off big time in the long term. To get the most bang for your buck, start with the pages that get the most traffic. Then, as you create more pages in the future, be sure to optimize as you go.

 

(HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to figure out which webpages are getting the most traffic using the “Sources” report.) 

 

Titles

 

Titles are the HTML element used to describe the topic of a webpage. You’ll find them in the title of a search engine result page (as shown below), and in the top bar of an internet browser.

 

hubspot-homepage-title

 

Titles have a direct impact on both searcher clickthrough rates (CTRs) and search rankings. To make your title both search-friendly and click-friendly:

 
 
 
    • Include one of your target keywords or phrases so it’s easier for searchers to identify that your results are relevant to other query — and position these keywords toward the front of the title to lower the risk of it getting cut off on SERPs.
 
 

Descriptions

 

Descriptions, also known as meta descriptions, are shown in search results below the title and URL, as shown below.

 

hubspot-homepage-description

 

Descriptions can help increase CTR, but nowadays, they actually don’t have a direct impact on rankings. They’re there for humans, not search engine crawlers, and you should use them to tell searchers why they should click on your result. Use one of your target keywords or phrases in your meta description so they know your content is relevant to their query, but make it attractive to the viewer, too.

 

Bonus: You can use this cool tool from Dejan SEO to preview what your search result would look like before deciding which description to use.

 

Headings & Content

 

It’s important to use your keywords in your headings and content, as visitors are much more likely to stay on a page if they can see the terms they had searched for on it. Using keywords in your content is used by Google as a ranking factor, so doing this can help improve your SERP placement.

 

Just make sure you’re using these keywords naturally, since Google has gotten better and better at being able to tell when people are keyword-stuffing their content. Whenever you create content, focus on what matters to your audience, not how many times you can include a keyword or keyword phrase in that content. If you do that, you’ll usually find you naturally optimize for important keywords.

 

While it’s fine to use keywords in multiple locations on your site, don’t overdo it or Google will demote your webpages in search results. (And hey, no one wants to read content like that, anyway.)

 

Image Alt Text & Titles

 

You can also look at including keywords in a natural way in your image alt text and titles. Both alt text and titles are attributes that can be added to an image tag in HTML. Here’s what a complete image tag might look like:

 

alt=”image-description” title=”image tooltip”/>

 

An image’s alt text tells search engine crawlers what an image is about, which helps it be found in search. It’ll display inside the image container when an image can’t be found, and it also improves accessibility for people with poor vision using screen readers.

 

An image title tag, on the other hand, is shown when a user hovers their mouse over the element — kind of like a “pop-up.” It won’t be shown to the user when an image can’t be displayed.

 

(HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to add alt text and title text to your images in HubSpot.)

 

Adding keywords to these image attributes may seem minor, and truthfully, it isn’t going to impact your search rankings as much as other things on this list. But trust us, it’s worth the extra minute (if that) it takes to change the name from “IMG23940” to something accurate and descriptive. 

 

For example, if you were to write alt text for the image below: 

 
 
    • Bad: alt=””
 
    • Better: alt=”puppies”
 
    • Best: alt=”golden-retriever-puppies-in-basket”
 
    • Avoid: alt=”puppy-dog-baby-dog-pup-pups-puppies-doggies-litter-retriever-labrador-wolfhound-setter-pointer-basket-wicker-basket-box-container-straw-grass-green-nature”
 
 

golden-retriever-puppies-in-basket

 

URLs

 

It’s a good idea to include keywords in your URL if they accurately describe the page contents. This is particularly important for businesses that do a lot of blogging — there’s a huge opportunity to optimize your URLs on every post you publish, as every post lives on its own unique URL.

 

But beware: Search engines will penalize exact match domains that are keyword stuffed. So if you’re thinking of starting up arizonerealestaterealtorsinarizona.com, think again. Keep it to businessname.com/topic-topic, and you should be fine.

 

As always, keep reader-friendliness in mind when you’re creating your URLs. Overall, your URLs should make sense to humans and give them a good sense of where in your website they’ve landed. You should also separate words with hyphens and remove extra words (like “a” and “the”) in the page part of the URL slug.

 

url-slugs

 

3) Learn to avoid search penalties.

 

There are a couple of things you should also avoid when optimizing your site for keywords, so be careful of the following sketchy SEO practices some people (mind-bogglingly) still use.

 

Never hide keywords.

 

This includes using the same color background as you do for the text, hiding them behind images, or hiding them off to the side using CSS. (I know, I can’t believe I have to say it.) While this isn’t as easy to catch as other black hat tactics, today’s more sophisticated search engines can easily find instances of hidden keywords — and it can result in serious search penalties.

 

Avoid keyword stuffing

 

Keyword stuffing means repeating keywords over and over again in the text, whether it’s in titles, headings, descriptions, page content, URLs, or even at the bottom of a webpage in very small text. Basically, when it looks like keywords have been added unnecessarily onto a webpage, it’s probably keyword stuffed.

 

Keyword stuffing is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to SEO — and nowadays, search engines have been developed specifically to detect it. Not only does it look spammy, but it’s not approved by search engines and will result in penalties. 

 

Don’t force keywords where they don’t belong.

 

This isn’t quite the same as stuffing a lot of keywords into a post. This is more about not forcing a keyword in — even if it’s just one — if it doesn’t belong, contextually speaking. If you can’t figure out a place to put a keyword in a piece of content, it’s often a sign the content isn’t that well-aligned with what your personas need, anyway.

 

Remember, SEO is not about incorporating as many keywords as possible. It’s much more about picking content topics relevant to your target audience.

 

4) Promote a good user experience.

 

The most important thing to consider is your visitor’s user experience. While optimizing your website for an algorithm sounds purely scientific, remember that the goal of search engines is the deliver the best experience possible to their end-users: searchers. If you keep that goal in mind with your SEO strategy, you’ll be more likely to make good choices. Think about humans first and search engines second, and you’ll be alright.

 

We know you’re a busy marketer with a lot of things on your plate. SEO need not fall to the bottom of your priority list because of lack of knowledge — or, worse, fear you’re doing it wrong. We hope this was a helpful starting-off point for your on-page SEO efforts. Happy optimizing! 

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

download the free on-page SEO template

 
 

 

 

                                   

 
 

LocalSEOGuide.com 2.0 Creative Brief

Q: Why Did We Update The Site?

 
 

A: Because The Old Site Sucked, Right?

 

1st LSG Post

 

Well, that’s not completely the case, although I had received my fair share of requests (mostly from Pakistan for some reason) to redesign the old site over the years.

 

Here’s the ready-for-Medium explanation for the ten of you who care:

 

I launched LSG.com in 2007 after working as an SEO consultant for a year without a site. I used to love to say to prospects “Real SEOs don’t need a website…”. I had my cousin’s wife, who did package design for razors, design it. The design looked like it had been put together in about ten minutes which seemed right for a personal blog about something as geeky as SEO. Over the years I had come to look at that anti-design as an asset. Instead of the typical clip-art, marketing-speak seen on most agency sites (you know who you are), LocalSEOGuide.com made it pretty clear that I was just some guy with a blog who seemed to know a bit about SEO and was so busy cranking up the traffic for clients I didn’t have time to design a damn website. I think this worked in my favor most of the time. Not hard when you are competing against stock photos & buzzwords.

 

But things have changed since those halcyon days when someone would fly across the country to meet me and cut me a huge check over lunch simply because I ranked #1 for “local SEO” and “must know what I am doing”. Over the past few years Local SEO Guide has grown from just me cranking out audits and advising businesses on strategy to a team of people who crank out audits and advise businesses on strategy. And it was time that this site reflect that as well as make it clearer to potential clients what exactly it is that we do.

 

Now that the site is live, I thought it would fun to share part of the creative brief we put together to kick off the project. I’d be curious to hear in the comments if you think we got it right.

 

LocalSEOGuide.com 2.0 Creative Brief

 
 
    1. Project Goals
       

      – Transition LocalSEOGuide.com (LSG.com) from a personal SEO blog to a SEO company website.

       

      – LSG.com is a 8-yr-old blog on SEO and local search written by Andrew Shotland, a SEO consultant and B-list SEO celebrity.  Currently the blog is under-optimized to convert readers/visitors into client leads and the UI does not easily accommodate new features and services.  It also could use an updated look.

 
 
 
    1. Brand Confusion
       

      Because our brand is “Local” we are probably missing out on some non-Local business (e.g. ecommerce sites, media sites, etc.).  About 50% of our clients are non-local, including some of the bigger sites on the Web such as oDesk.com/Elance.com, Coupons.com, RottenTomatoes.com, SwimOutlet.com, Slacker.com, etc.  While we don’t want to dilute the “Local” part, we’d like to make it clearer that we do “Enterprise” SEO.

 
 
 
    1. Authenticity When we ask potential clients why they contacted us via the blog, we often hear something like “you seem authentic”, “you don’t seem like your trying to bullshit me”, etc.  We interpret this partially as our website doesn’t look like a service marketing website such as (Crap SEO Company Website Redacted) or (Crap SEO Company Website Redacted)It’s important that the new design/UI maintain that sense of authenticity.  It needs to feel like we are doing this out of garage (a very excellent garage of course), while at the same time making visitors more aware of our different services and improving conversion.We think a lot of this can be accomplished via language and simplicity of design.
    2.  
    3.  
 
 
    1. Target Audience
       

      – Other SEOs: They share our posts and link to us. They may be our primary target.

       
       

      – Multi-Location & Single Location businesses looking for “Local SEO” help

       
       

      – Agencies looking for SEO experts to help with Local SEO

       
       

      – CEOs, CMOs and PMs looking for “Enterprise” SEO help

 
 
 
    1. Key Messages
       

      The following are effective messages we communicate during initial sales calls. We’d like them to come through via the design either explicitly or implicitly:

       

      – We understand your pain. We used to run a business that required SEO (InsiderPages.com) and we found it difficult. We started LSG to help people avoid the stress and anxiety I went through having to figure it out on the job.

       

      – Education & Trust. We give a lot of info away for free. We know you need to trust us before you hire us.

       

      – Experience. We have been doing this for a long time and we have seen a lot of bizarre shit in the SERPs. This will help us help you.

 
 
 
 

Here’s The First Wireframe I Created. It Ripped Off Slack’s Home Page UI Which All The Hipsters Were (& Still Are) Doing:

 
 
 
 

LSG 2.0 First DraftI still love it…

 

 

 

The post LocalSEOGuide.com 2.0 Creative Brief appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

 
 

 

Context is King: A Million Examples of Creative Ad Campaigns Getting it Right

Posted by Daniel_Marks

[Estimated read time: 6 minutes]

 
 

This was one of the first television commercials to ever air:

 
 

 

 
 
 

Talking to the camera on a mic was the obvious way to leverage television: after all, that’s how radio commercials worked. Now, advertisers could just put radio commercials on television. What an exciting new advertising medium!

 
 

As it turns out, putting radio commercials on television wasn’t really the best use of this new medium. Sound familiar? This seems awfully similar to the current practice of turning your television commercial into a YouTube pre-roll ad. However, the difference this time isn’t the media format, which is largely similar (YouTube videos are still video, banner ads are still text + image, podcast sponsorships are still voice, etc.) Instead, the difference is how people are consuming the content; in other words, the context.

 
 

A television commercial is a relatively static experience: 30 seconds of video placed within a few appropriate time slots, reaching people in their living room (or possibly bedroom). A Facebook newsfeed ad is a little more dynamic: it can be seen anywhere (home, office, bus, etc.), at anytime, by anyone, in almost any format and next to almost any content. The digital age has basically exacerbated the “problem” of context by offering up a thousand different ways for consumers to interact with your marketing.

 
 

But, with great problems comes great opportunity – or something like that. So, what are some ways to leverage context in the digital age?

 
 

Intent context

 

Different channels have different user intents. On one end of the funnel are channels like Facebook and Snapchat that are great fillers of the empty space in our lives. This makes them well-suited for top-of-funnel brand advertising because you aren’t looking for something specific and are therefore more receptive to brand messaging (though you can certainly use Facebook for direct marketing purposes).

 
 

BuzzFeed, for example, has done a great job of tailoring their Snapchat content to the intent of the channel – it’s about immediate gratification, not driving off-channel behaviors:

 
 

 

 
 
 

This feels like you’re watching your friend’s Snapchat story, not professionally produced branded content. However, it’s still the early days for Snapchat – all companies, including BuzzFeed, are trying to figure out what kind of content makes sense for their goals.

 
 

As for Facebook, there are plenty of examples of doing brand awareness right, but one of the more famous ones is by A1 Steak Sauce. It was both set and promoted (in part) on Facebook:

 
 

 

 
 
 

Critically, the video works with or without sound.

 
 

On the other end of the funnel is something like AdWords: great when you know what you’re looking for, not so great when you don’t. This subway ad for health insurance from Oscar feels pretty out of place when you use the same copy for AdWords:

 
 

 
 

 
 

Getting intent right means that you need to actually experience your ad as a user would. It’s not enough to put a bunch of marketers together in a conference room and watch the YouTube ad you created. You need to feel the ad as a user would. This means watching your ad when you’re in the living room and just clicked on a friend’s YouTube link from Facebook to watch a soccer highlight (or whatever).

 
 

Situational context

 

Situational context (is that redundant?) can be leveraged with a whole range of strategies, but the overarching theme is the same: make users feel like the ad they’re seeing is uniquely built for their current situation. It’s putting a YouTube star in pre-roll ads on their own channel, or quickly tweeting something off the back of a current event:

 
 
 

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

 

…or digital experiences that are relevant to the sporting event a user is watching:

 
 

 

 
 
 

There are thousands of examples of doing this right:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    • Shopify reaches you with a simple message just after logging out:
 
 

 
 

Behavioral context

 

You might want people on Facebook to watch your video with sound, but the reality is that 85% of Facebook video views are silent. You might want people to watch your brilliant one-minute YouTube ad, but the reality is that 94% of users skip an ad after 5 seconds You need to embrace user behaviors instead of railing against them, like these smart people:

 
 
 
 
 
 
    • Geico makes an “unskippable” 5 second YouTube ad:
       
       

      How do you reach people who skip your commercial after 5 seconds? Make the ad 5 seconds long!

 
 

Understanding channel behaviors means not using channel features for the sake of channel features while still taking advantage of behaviors that allow for richer ad experiences. It means using the channel yourself, looking up the relevant research, talking to experts, and making informed decisions about how people will actually engage with your creative work.

 
 

Location context

 

A user’s location can prompt geographic-specific advertising (for example, Facebook Local Awareness Ads or in-store Snapchat filters). It can feel gimmicky when used needlessly, but can provide a compelling marketing experience when done right.

 
 

AirBnB’s slogan is “belong anywhere.” One of the ways to feel like a local in a new city is to have locals give you a personal tour – which is exactly what AirBnB provides by targeting people on mobile when they’re looking for directions:

 
 

 

 
 
 

Or you can just make use of location services in more straightforward ways, like how the Bernie Sanders campaign targeted his core demographics in New York before the important primary by using Snapchat Geofilters.

 
 

However, be careful about inferring location from device – only 17% of mobile searches are on the go.

 
 

Audience context

 

Audience targeting is likely the most powerful form of context provided by digital marketing. You can segment your audience in a thousand different ways – from Facebook Lookalikes to Google Customer Match – that a billboard could only dream of. The more you customize your ad copy to the audience you’re targeting, the better off you’ll be. (There seems to be a running theme here…)

 
 

You could directly speak to the audience of your competitors by targeting branded keywords:

 
 

 
 

Or better yet, target competitor customers that are about to change services:

 
 
 

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

 

Retargeting is another powerful way to use audience context by changing your copy to reflect the actions a user has taken on your site (more great retargeting examples here):

 
 

 
 

Then, of course, there are all the obvious ways of leveraging audience, such as adjusting your value proposition, using a slightly different tone, or tweaking the offer you provide.

 
 

There’s a cliché that the digital age has killed advertising creativity. Forget about clever copy or innovative work, It’s all about spreadsheets and algorithms now. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Internet didn’t kill advertising creativity – it just raised the bar. Content in all its forms (video ads, blog posts, tweets, etc.) will always be important. It might be harder to buy engaged eyeballs for your 30-second commercial online, but content done right can reach millions of people who are voluntarily consuming it. More importantly, though, the Internet lets you engage with your audience in a thousand innovative ways, providing a revamped arena for marketing creativity: context.

 
 

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19 Simple Email Marketing Tips to Improve Your Email Open and Clickthrough Rates

email-open-click-through-tips.jpeg

 

Practicing good inbound marketing means sending emails to people who actually want to hear from you.

 

But oftentimes, your emails still end up getting lost in the inbox clutter — or worse, in the spam folder. And then, when someone actually opens your email, they don’t actually click through. Download our free guide to creating emails people actually open and click here. 

 

You may often think to yourself, “Ugh. I just can’t win.”

 

I’ve got your back, though. Here are eight little things you can start doing immediately to improve the open rates, clickthrough rates, and lead generation for your emails.

 

19 Tips for Better Email Open and Clickthrough Rates

 

1) Abide by CAN-SPAM rules.

 

CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) is an act that was passed in 2003. Essentially, it’s a law that establishes the rules for commercial email and commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have a business stop emailing them, and outlines the penalties incurred for those who violate the law.

 

In order to be CAN-SPAM compliant, it’s important your email messages follow these rules, which are available on the FTC’s website.

 

A few highlights:

 
 
    • You need to include your valid physical postal address in every email you send out.
 
    • You need to give recipients a clear and obvious way to opt out (i.e., unsubscribe) of every email you send. (HubSpot customers: Don’t worry — you can’t save an email template unless it includes this element.)
 
    • You need to use clear “From,” “To,” and “Reply to” language that accurately reflects who you are.
 
    • You cannot sell or transfer any email addresses to another list.
 
 

Note: I am not a lawyer, and that you should not construe the contents of this article as legal advice. Check out the FTC’s website for extensive advice on this subject, and read this blog post for more tips on improving email deliverability.

 

2) Email new contacts within 24 hours.

 

It’s important to take advantage of the window of opportunity when your company or brand is at the top of your prospects’ minds. You can really get a pulse of what future engagement will look like by what people do when you email then within 24 hours of their subscribing to your newsletter, signing up for an offer, and so on. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for branding and setting expectations.

 

If you don’t have any automated email workflows set up, you’re likely missing out on some major opportunities to nurture and engage your existing contacts.

 

(HubSpot customers: Use HubSpot’s Workflows App to create personalized, automated email workflows that can get triggered in a number of different ways: when a contact gets added to a list, submits a form on your website, clicks a link in an email, views a page on your blog, clicks on one of your AdWords ads, or becomes a marketing qualified lead.)

 

3) Send your email from a real person, not your company.

 

When you send email from a real person, your email open rate increases. Plain and simple. This is because — based on past tests we’ve conducted — recipients are typically more likely to trust a personalized sender name and email address than a generic one. People are so inundated with spam nowadays, they often hesitate to open email from unfamiliar senders — and they’re more likely to trust a personalized sender name and email address than a generic one.

 

At HubSpot, we found that that emails sent from “Maggie Georgieva, HubSpot” perform better in terms of open and clickthrough rate than emails sent from just “HubSpot.” So, it may be best to do this …

 
 
    • Sender name: Paul Smith
 
 
 

… instead of this:

 
 
    • Sender name: Marketing Team
 
 
 

(HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to personalize the “From” name and email address.)

 

Note: Our tests showed personalization works, but we’ve also found that a combination of a person’s name and a company name together in the sender name works well, too. You’ve just got to A/B test what works best for your particular company, brand, and industry as well as what’s ideal based on to whom you’re sending emails.

 

4) Pre-set the preview text.

 

Email clients like the iPhone Mail app, Gmail, and Outlook will display the first few lines of text from the body of your email alongside the subject line. In other words, it’s a text preview of the content inside the email. The exact amount of text shown depends on the email client and user settings.

 

Use it to provide a short, to-the-point synopsis of what you’re offering — and keep it to 50 characters or less.

 

email-preview-text-in-inbox.png

 

When you don’t set the preview text, the client will automatically pull from the body of your email, which not only looks messy, but is also a wasted opportunity to engage your audience. (HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to set the preview text of your emails.)

 

5) Write clear and clickable subject lines.

 

Speaking of the subject line … your marketing emails have a lot to compete with in recipients’ inboxes. The best way to stand out is to write compelling, “can’t-help-but-click-on-this” subject lines.

 

To entice readers to click, be sure your subject lines:

 
 
    • Are super clear and understandable.
 
    • Are fewer than 50 characters so they don’t get cut off, particularly by mobile devices.
 
 
    • Include verbs and action-oriented language to create a sense of urgency and excitement.
 
    • Include an exclusive value proposition (like a 20% off deal or a free ebook) so people know what they’re getting.
 
 
    • Are timely, if applicable. (One of my favorite subject lines came from Warby Parker and read: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”.)
 
    • Include their first names sometimes (it could increase clickthrough rates), or even add something about their specific location. (You’ll want to do this sparingly, like for your most important offers, rather than over-doing it and being repetitive or intrusive.)
 
 

Read this blog post for more tips on writing clickable, delightful subject lines.

 

6) Keep your emails short.

 

Everyone’s busy and their inbox is already full. Why add to the problem with a huge, long email? People generally like short, concise emails better than long ones. Plus, when they’re scanning through all their emails in a short amount of time, they’re more likely to skim and glean the overall message before deciding to take any action.

 

Another reason to keep your emails short? Too much copy is actually a red flag for spam filters, too.

 

To keep your emails short and compelling, write your email like you were talking to someone in real life. If your email has to be on the long side, break it up into multiple paragraphs to provide visual breaks. This’ll make skimming it much easier on your reader. (Read this blog post on how to write compelling emails for more tips.)

 

Here’s a great example of a concise email:

 

free-lattes-concise-email-language.png

 

7) Include one, clear call-to-action button per email.

 

Remember when I said a lot of your email recipients will scan your email without reading all the copy? That’s why you want to have a clear call-to-action button that’s easy to spot for even the quickest of email scanners. Without a CTA button, you won’t be calling on your recipients to take any action that actually benefits them — and the growth of your business.

 

You’ll want to place your CTA in a location where it’s easily visible and where it makes sense for someone to click on it. For example, you might put a CTA to download a free ebook in an email that describes new strategies for using your product.

 

Once you’ve determined where you want to put your CTA, it’s time to create the button itself. Click here to download 50 free CTA button templates to get you started. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to add CTA buttons to emails in HubSpot here.)

 

8) Add alt text to your call-to-action buttons.

 

Many email clients block images — including your CTA buttons — by default. That means a good chunk of your audience may not see your beautiful, optimized CTA. Instead, they see this:

 

 

When you set an image’s alt text, though, you let recipients who can’t view images in their email know exactly where to click to complete the action:

 

This is what an image with alt-text looks like.

 

You can either edit the alt text in your email tool’s rich text editor (just right-click the image and edit away), or you can manually enter it in the HTML editor of your email tool like this:

 

 

9) Add links to your images.

 

Your ultimate goal in email marketing is to get people to click through to a web page. One way to increase the clickthrough without littering the copy with links is to add a link to your images in the email.

 

You can simply click on the image and then use your email tool’s “Insert/Edit Link” option, or you can link an image in the HTML editor using the following code:

 

 

10) Include noticeable text links.

 

In general, it’s a good idea to link to your featured offer in multiple places in addition to the clear and focused call-to-action button. In addition to your main CTAs and images, consider including a noticeable text link (or two) when applicable because having more links increases the opportunity for engagement.

 

One analysis found that linking a phrase with about 7-10 words is best for boosting clickthrough rate.

 

11) Place at least one of these clickable elements above the fold.

 

One way to make your emails more clickable? Place one or more of your clickable elements — whether it’s a CTA button, a text link, or a clickable image — near the beginning of your email.

 

This is especially useful for mobile users. Mobile tends to require a lot of scrolling, and sometimes squinting, pinching, and zooming. Giving a recipient something actionable that is seen upon opening can lead to more clicks in this environment.

 

12) Add alt text to all of your images.

 

Again, a lot of email clients out there block images by default. (Here’s the full list from Campaign Monitor.) In those cases, images won’t load unless the recipient clicks a button to show them or change their default settings.

 

Adding alt text to your email images helps recipients understand your message — even if they can’t see the images right away. (HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to add alt text to your email images in HubSpot.)

 

add-alt-text.png

 

You might consider making the language in your alt text actionable, such as “Click here to download the ultimate content creation kit.” Actionable alt text will essentially turn every linked image into another CTA. So even if someone doesn’t see the snazzy GIF of my latest offer (or if they hover their mouse over an image that does show up), the alt text will beckon them to click.

 

13) Avoid background images, especially if your target buyers tend to use Outlook as an email client.

 

Microsoft Outlook doesn’t recognize background images, period. Given that Outlook is the sixth most-used email client with 7% of the market share — and that’s in total; your industry might have a lot more — it’s best to avoid using background images altogether.

 

Instead, use a background color and use images in other ways in your email, like Harry’s did in their email below:

 

harrys-email-example.png

 

Image Credit: Beautiful Email Newsletters

 

14) Add social sharing buttons.

 

Increasing the number of people who see your link will increase the number of people who click on it. So, be sure to extend the life of your email by adding social sharing buttons.

 

Social Sharing Buttons

 

Many email tools will come with templates that have built-in social sharing buttons that make it easy — just fill in the destination URL and you’re good to go. If you don’t have built-in capabilities, here is a cheat sheet for easily creating your own social sharing buttons.

 

Important Note: If you want to increase clicks, you want to add sharing buttons, not follow buttons. The former will allow your email recipients to pass along the offer URL in your email to their followers. The latter will prompt them to Like, follow, or add your company social media channels.

 

15) Simplify sharing with ready-made tweets.

 

People are far more likely to take an action if you make it really, really easy for them. For recipients out there who are too lazy to tweet the wonderful content you sent them via email, you can make it easy for them by creating what we call a “lazy tweet.”

 

One simple way to do this? Using ClickToTweet, a free custom tweet link generator. First, go to ClickToTweet’s basic tweet generator. Then, type in your tweet, desired (trackable) destination URL, and hashtags:

 

click-to-tweet-example.png

 

Click “Generate New Link,” and then grab that link. Then you can link it to your Twitter sharing button. Or, if you’re segmenting your list by attributes such as “has Twitter” or “topic of recent conversion: social media” (you’ll need marketing intelligence software like HubSpot for this), you can even include it in your main email copy, like this:

 

 

Premade tweet copy example

 

16) Add a ready-made email forwarding option.

 

Another way to extend the clicks on your email beyond its shelf life is to prompt your audience to forward the offer. The folks at Litmus found that the most forwarded emails were 13X more likely than the typical email to include “Share With Your Network” calls-to-action. By including forward-to-a-friend (or social sharing links, as we discussed above), you put it in recipients’ minds to share.

 

You can add a little post-script to the end of your email copy, such as “Not responsible for your company’s social media? Feel free to forward this ebook to a friend or colleague using social media marketing.” Link the call-to-action to a pre-made email complete with subject and body. That way, all someone has to do is enter their associates’ email addresses and hit “Send”.

 

You can highlight text or an image and add the URL via your email tool’s rich text editor and then enter a mailto:? link. Here’s what this looks like:

 

mailto:?subject=Your%20subject%20here%20&body=Your%20email%20body%20text%20here.

 

You can also create this in your HTML editor. Here’s how to attach a mailto:? link to text:

 
 

forward this ebook.

 

And here’s how to attach your mailto:? link to an image, such as a sleek call-to-action button that says “Email This Offer”:

 

 

Just make sure you use the “%20” tag to separate words! Otherwise, your message willreadlikethis (not too appealing, right?).

 

17) Clean up the plain-text version.

 

Not every recipient is going to see the beautiful, HTML, rich-text version of your email. Some clients don’t support HTML-rich emails, while other times, a person may simply choose to only view messages in plain text.

 

When you don’t optimize the plain-text version of your email, this is what happens when someone views it:

 

Plain-text email done wrong.

 

Scary, isn’t it? I don’t think many people are going to bother to read through this garbled mess.

 

So, cut out the extra text, replace long tracking URLs with shortened ones, and keep the body simple. Taking the five extra minutes to optimize your email’s plain-text version could help you reach more of your target segment and keep you out of the spam folder.

 

Note: When you’re cleaning up your plain-text emails, don’t change the actual copy much at all or you’ll risk it getting marked as spam.

 

18) Keep mobile users top-of-mind.

 

In Litmus’ analysis of over a billion email opens, they reported that 56% of opened emails were opened on mobile devices in April 2016. This figure represents an 8% increase in mobile opens in the past year.

 

“This represents a peak for mobile market share,” they wrote, “and the longest sustained growth we’ve seen after the holiday season.”

 

 

 

mobile-email-opens-litmus.png

 

Image Credit: Litmus

 

As more and more people use their mobile devices to read email and surf the web, it’s more important than ever that marketers design their emails with mobile users in mind. Otherwise, their user base will be significantly affected.

 

How? Here’s a visual example of what happens when images aren’t optimized for mobile (first) versus when images are optimized for mobile (second):

 

email-not-optimized-for-mobile.png email-optimized-for-mobile.png

 

Isn’t the second image a much better user experience?

 

Here are a few ways to optimize your emails for mobile devices:

 
 
    • Reduce your images’ file sizes to make up for mobile devices’ generally slower download speeds. (HubSpot customers don’t need to worry about it — images uploaded to HubSpot’s software are automatically compressed. Otherwise, tools like TinyPNG will help you reduce file size.)
 
    • Ensure the CTA buttons and links are larger than 45-57 pixels for the best user experience. Why? According to an MIT study, the average size of an adult index finger is 1.6-2 cm, which translates to 45-57 pixels on a mobile device.
 
    • Invest in responsive email templates. Creating your own responsive template may be beyond your particular skill set or bandwidth. Sometimes, the most economical solution is to just license or buy email templates from the people who do it best.
 
 

HubSpot customers: HubSpot’s default email templates are all optimized for mobile using responsive design. To access these templates, create a new email and look for the responsive option in the “folders” drop-down in the top left.

 

responsive-email-1.png

 

19) Preview and test your emails before sending them.

 

When you’re finally ready to hit “Send” on your email, make a habit of double-checking one last time whether your emails look as good as you think they do. If your email marketing tool lets you, go ahead and preview what your email looks like in different email clients and devices that are popular with your audience.

 

(HubSpot customers: You can preview what your emails look like in 30+ email clients right in the HubSpot Email App, as well as preview what your emails will look like on any device, including desktop, tablet, or mobile devices. Click here to learn how.)

 

You should also send out a test version of your email before you send out the real deal to ensure it’s working properly for everyone on your email list. Start incorporating these as final steps in your email review process. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to test your emails here.)

 

Email marketing can be tough at times — I’m right there with ya. But by sending compelling offers to the right target segments and paying attention to the little details that go into an email, you can increase the opens clicks in your emails and generate more leads. (And learn more about which email marketing metrics to track — and how — here.)

 

Are there any tips or tricks you have for fellow marketers out there looking to improve email click rates?

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

optimizing email marketing ebook

 
 

 

 

free email optimization ebook

 
 

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