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I recently attended the Digimarcon West 2015 Conference. Though the entire list of presenters was very impressive, the person that I was most excited to see was the Wizard of Moz: Rand Fishkin. Rand is an incredible presenter and all around wonderful human being. His presentation offered advice on how to be a standout web marketer. I am thrilled to share his insights for the Wpromote blog.



We prioritize what we see on the Internet. We get bombarded with notifications of “read this!” “read that!” “pick me!” when we look at our Facebook Feed, Twitter Feed, etc. Notifications can be never-ending! At some point during the day we all ask ourselves this question: “Is this online content truly worth my time?”



Whether it is another engagement announcement or passive aggressive political post #3,567, the question is always at the top of my mind: to comment or not to comment? How do we sort through the useless noise? How do we decide which pieces of content deserve our attention? As marketers, we need to adjust our strategy to stand out and stay off the bottom rung of the priority ladder of our consumers.


Though the excess of online content seems intimidating in theory, it doesn’t take very long to sort through the mess and prioritize your online activity. Attention spans are dwindling in the digital age. For the average consumer, sorting through various online feeds in the morning before work takes approximately 4 minutes. That fact doesn’t give online marketers much time to make a positive impression!



With more people online, there is also an excess of information online, which makes it harder to get web traffic if you aren’t a well known brand.



The Internet is constantly affecting our ability to focus. Research into brain plasticity suggests that screen engagement is literally rewiring our minds. This leaves marketers in a tough position. We are constantly fighting against each other to capture the audience’s attention. With such steep competition and attention spans lower than ever, HOW DO WE STAND OUT?!


1. Pursue Less Accessible Opportunities – Everyone’s going after the same keywords. Google AdWords can actually hide data, because it can’t always show the full depth of what individual search queries may be. Though this is frustrating, there is opportunity for people who broaden their keyword sets.

UberSuggest and KeywordTool.io are great tools to fill in gaps within keyword research. Use tools that less people utilize to create a unique strategy.

Look into related searches as well. Though Google AdWords isn’t perfect, the Google search bar can offer more insight than most people realize. You can also manually extract topics from online discussion boards. This method takes more time, but it is far less utilized by competitors, so your results will stand out.

Often, people think that reaching out to top influencers will lead to success. While these individuals do attract attention, their feeds are overflowing with outreach requests. How will you get through? If you can’t break through to the influencers, look at who influences the influencers. Reach out to these individuals and lessen the gap between you and your desired connection.

Rand thought: Marketers are told to pursue channels and tactics that scale. Therefore, tactics that DON’T scale will stand out from the crowd. An example of this would be every single new customer for an Ecommerce brand receiving a personal email from the CEO. This is a less common powerful action that can distinguish you from your competitors.

At this point in the talk, Rand admitted that he responds to every email that he receives. Being the Wizard of Moz, this would seem like an insurmountable task. Nonetheless, it is a great non-scalable activity that leads to valuable genuine connections. Therefore, it is a worthwhile investment of time.


2. Invest In Formats That Others Avoid – The easier content is to create, the harder it is to stand out. Memorable content requires time and effort. The fastest growing social platforms are based on visuals. Visuals are often perceived as more trustworthy than text alone.



However, this isn’t always true. To have full influence, visuals should pop and be unique. Stock visuals fill a void, but they don’t deliver a personal connection that can lead to long term customer loyalty. If you capitalize on unique, impactful images, you can have a greater long-term impact on your business.



Polished and professional content can be boring and predictable. Authentic and amateur content can make more of a memorable splash.

Rand thought: The less directly a tactic leads to sales, the less competition there will be.

Most marketers focus on optimizing for conversions, where a series of logical steps leads to profit. Look into areas that aren’t already overrun with ads to create a new hold in the competitive space. Investments in education and entertainment are a good place to start. Get to know what your audience is doing before they reach the sales funnel.


3. Adopt Early, While Competitors Delay – People are drowning in Facebook Ads. Instagram, Pinterest, and Reddit, however, are just taking off within the advertising space. Utilize these up and coming platforms to get a leg up on your competition.

“Mobile-Friendly” is a given at this point. Clients that fight mobile optimization are sabotaging themselves. “Mobile First” is the new kid on the block. For example, Tinder is experiencing great success as a mobile first platform.



Tinder is pounding their competition by optimizing for their audience. They know that the people they market to are most likely going to use their service on their mobile phones. They skipped the extra junk and put mobile capability FIRST, blazing a new path in online business.

Rand Thought: Target keywords, sites, and influencers before they become popular. 

Today’s news creates what keywords people will be searching for tomorrow. It is important to get ahead of the curve. Keep your content fresh to avoid being left in the dust. Google recently established a new partnership with Twitter, which dictates that tweets will soon run in Google search results. This demonstrates the importance of staying on top of current news and developments within your field.

Socialbakers can show you the fastest growing profiles on Twitter, Google+, and YouTube. This can allow you to connect with people who will be top influencers in the future, as opposed to people who are already out of reach.


4. Pay Attention To Correlation As Well As Causal Inputs – In social media, it is tough to set a standard for which activities will lead to conversion.



As seen in the chart above, oftentimes people will share an article on social media without actually reading the article. If content isn’t consumed, the value of the share decreases. On the flipside, Facebook likes of movie pages are well correlated to box office returns. The connection between social media interaction and business is a bit of a grab bag.

ComScore urges marketers to “break their addiction to clicks and instead look to more meaningful metrics for evaluating campaign performance.” But this action is easier said than done.

In particular, SEO professionals struggle with correlation. When we hear that something doesn’t necessarily work, we can too quickly assume that we shouldn’t implement it at all, when there could still be benefits to implementation. Rand provided an example scenario to demonstrate this fact: Google celebrity Matt Cutts has said that schema won’t necessarily raise your rankings. BUT schema is related to clickthrough rate, and CTR can directly or indirectly affect rankings. Therefore, you should still implement schema!

Correlation doesn’t tell us why a site or page ranks higher than another. Correlation tells us what features high ranking sites have that lower ranking sites don’t have. Rand insists that we want to know what top ranking sites are doing in comparison to low ranking sites, regardless of what Google says!


5. Invest In The Hardest Tactic To Measure: Brand – Queries and clicks influence rankings. Topical domain authority has a great influence over rankings. Brand advertising is already playing a role in SEO, and that will only increase over time.

 Rand thought: Web searchers are strongly biased by brands.

The final thought that Rand left us with was the fact that the online marketing sphere is constantly evolving. These 5 strategies are relevant now, but the techniques could change tomorrow, next week, in a year, etc. As online marketers, we must be proactive, listen to our clients with undistracted ears, and notice the patterns in technological behavior that will lead to new innovations.

To get more tips and tricks from the Wizard of Moz, check out Rand’s blog: https://moz.com/rand/



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