How to Target Your Facebook Ads to Business Locations


Do you want to get your Facebook posts in front of an audience at a specific physical location? Have you considered targeting people based on where they work? Using workplace targeting makes it easy to get your content in front of the right people at the right company. In this article, you’ll discover how to […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Title Tag Length Guidelines: 2016 Edition

Posted by Dr-Pete

[Estimated read time: 5 minutes]

For the past couple of weeks, Google has been testing a major change to the width of the left-hand column, expanding containers from 512 pixels to 600 (a 17% increase). Along with this change, Google has increased the available length of result titles:

This naturally begs the question — how many characters can we fit into a display title now? When Google redesigned SERPs in 2014, I recommended a limit of 55 characters. Does a 17% bigger container mean we’ve got 9 more characters to work with?

Not so fast, my friend…

This is where things get messy. It’d be great if we could just count the characters and be done with it, but things are never quite that easy. We’ve got three complications to consider:

(1) Character widths vary

Google uses the Arial font for result titles, and Arial is proportional. In other words, different characters occupy different amounts of space. A lower- case ‘l’ is going to occupy much less space than an upper-case ‘W’. The total width is measured in pixels, not characters, and the maximum amount you can fit in that space depends on what you’re trying to say.

In our 10,000-keyword tracking set, the title below is the longest cut or uncut display title we measured, clocking in at 77 characters:

This title has 14 i’s and lowercase l’s, 10 lowercase t’s, and 3 narrow punctuation marks, creating a character count bonanza. To count this title and say that yours can be 77 characters would be dangerously misleading.

(2) Titles break at whole words

Prior to this change, Google was breaking words at whatever point the cut-off happened. Now, they seem to be breaking titles at whole words. If the cut happens in the middle of a long word, the remaining length might be considerably shorter. For example, here’s a word that’s just not going to fit into your display title twice, and so the cut comes well short of the full width:

(3) Google is appending brands

In some cases, Google is cutting off titles and then appending the brand to the end. Unfortunately, this auto-appended brand text still occupies space and counts against your total allowance. This was the shortest truncated display title in our data set, measuring only 34 characters pre-cut:

The brand text “- The Homestead” was appended by Google and is not part of the sites <TITLE> tag. The next word in the title was “Accommodations”, so the combination of the brand add-on and long word made for a very truncated title.

Data from 10,000 searches

Examples can be misleading, so we wanted to take a deeper dive. We pulled all of the page-1 display titles from the 10,000-keyword MozCast tracking set, which ends up being just shy of 90,000 titles. Uncut titles don’t tell us much, since they can be very short in some cases. So, let’s focus on the titles that got cut. Here are the character lengths (not counting ” …”) of the cut titles:

We’ve got a fairly normal distribution (skewed a little to the left) with both a mean and median right around 63. So, is 63 our magic number? Not quite. Roughly half the cut titles in our data set had less than 63 characters, so that’s still a fairly risky length.

The trick is to pick a number where we feel fairly confident that the title won’t be cut off, on average (a guaranteed safe zone for all titles would be far too restrictive). Here are a few select percentages of truncated titles that were above a certain character length:

  • 55% of cut titles >= 63 (+2) characters
  • 91% of cut titles >= 57 (+2) characters
  • 95% of cut titles >= 55 (+2) characters
  • 99% of cut titles >= 48 (+2) characters

In research, we might stick to a 95% or 99% confidence level (note: this isn’t technically a confidence interval, but the rationale is similar), but I think 90% confidence is a decent practical level. If we factor in the ” …”, that gives us about +2 characters. So, my recommendation is to keep your titles under 60 characters (57+2 = 59).

Keep in mind, of course, that cut-offs aren’t always bad. A well placed “…” might actually increase click-through rates on some titles. A fortuitous cut-off could create suspense, if you trust your fortunes to Google:

Now that titles are cut at whole words, we also don’t have to worry about text getting cut off at confusing or unfortunate spots. Take, for example, the dangerous predicament of The International Association of Assemblages of Assassin Assets:

Prior to the redesign, their titles were a minefield. Yes, that contributed nothing to this post, but once I had started down that road, it was already too late.

So, that’s it then, right?

Well, no. As Google evolves and adapts to a wider range of devices, we can expect them to continue to adjust and test display titles. In fact, they’re currently test a new, card-style format for desktop SERPs where each result is boxed and looks like this:

We’re not even entirely sure that the current change is permanent. The narrower format is still appearing for some people under some conditions. If this design sticks, then I’m comfortable saying that keeping your title length under 60 characters will prevent the majority of cut-offs.

Note: People have been asking when we’ll update our title tag tool. We’re waiting to make sure that this design change is permanent, but will try to provide an update ASAP. Updates and a link to that tool will appear in this post when we make a final decision.

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4 Ways Copywriting Can Boost Your E-commerce Conversion Rates

Posted by ksaleh

[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]

Your website’s copy is far more important than you realize.

Besides design, copy forms the foundation of your brand. How you describe yourself and your products leaves a palpable impression on your customers. Whether customers think of your brand as bold, futuristic, quirky, or cute depends largely on your copy.

Web copy is also crucial for conveying product information. Your customers want to know how your product works and how it will change their lives.

Unfortunately, far too many e-commerce stores spend hours optimizing their website’s design and layout but completely skip over the copy.

The result? Poor conversion rates.

The relationship between copy and conversion rates

If you’re running an e-commerce store, a SaaS startup, or a marketing agency, the three of your biggest challenges are:

  1. Informing visitors about the store’s products and their unique features and benefits
  2. Evoking emotions that drive action and persuade the visitor
  3. Fostering a long-lasting relationship by emphasizing the brand’s values (and how they align with their customers’ values)

You’ll realize that you can meet all of these challenges through smart copywriting. In fact, it isn’t unusual for improving a website’s copy to increase its conversion rates by 2x, 3x, or even 4x.

For example:

  • FreckleTime increased the conversion rate for its homepage by 2.4x simply by changing its copy.
  • Invesp increased conversion rates for BlogTalk Radio and Oreilly by over 90% by focusing on copy and value proposition in the copy throughout the site.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica increased conversion rates by 103% by changing its sales page copy.

There is a distinct, direct relationship between copy and conversion rates. Better copy, whether it’s on landing pages or product descriptions, leads to better conversion rates.

The obvious question is: how can you improve your e-commerce copy?

Here are four actionable tactics you can use right away to get better conversions.

1. Write for your target personas

Sketching out a target customer profile based on your brand’s personas will help you craft laser-targeted, high-converting copy.

Nearly all your customers will belong to one or more of these four persona types:

  • Logical persona: This persona type is logical, methodical, and detail-oriented. A customer with a logical persona will carefully scrutinize your offer before hitting the “Buy” button. He will also shop around for better deals. Roughly 40–45% of the audience falls into this category.
  • Impulsive persona: An impulsive persona type is spontaneous, risk-oriented, and optimistic. This persona is more prone to making quick decisions and will focus on the benefits when buying. Roughly 30–35% of the audience would be characterized as an impulsive persona.
  • Caring persona: A caring persona is concerned deeply about the well-being of others. This persona will consider your offer only when it helps others as well. Instead of looking at the product and its features, those having caring personas will also browse through your About Us page to see what kind of company you run. Roughly 15–20% of the population falls into this category.
  • Aggressive persona: An aggressive persona is rational and focused on self-improvement. This persona holds herself to a high standard of integrity and will expect the same from you. Roughly 5–7% of the population has this persona.

How to write for each customer persona

What kind of copy you’ll use for each persona will depend largely on what category the persona falls into. A logical persona type will respond very differently to your copy than an impulsive persona type.

Try following some of these guidelines for your persona-types:

Logical persona

  • Emphasize features
  • Include extensive details, especially of the technology behind your products
  • Avoid fluff and vague language

Example: Take a look at the product descriptions on This is a brand that sells expensive but high-quality outerwear for extreme cold weather conditions.

canada goose

Canada Goose customers care about the quality and construction of the clothes. The copy reflects this, focusing on features and underlying technology.

Impulsive persona

  • Focus on benefits
  • Use rich imagery and power words
  • Weave a story around your product

Example: Read the product descriptions on the J Peterman catalog. This brand sells the story behind each product.

j peterman

The details are sparse and the copy uses rich imagery and metaphors to appeal to its target audience.

Caring persona

  • Show how your products benefit others, both within product descriptions and on unique pages (About Us, mission statement, etc.).
  • Emphasize the environmental or social benefits of your products.

Example: On, each product page has a separate section detailing the product’s supply chain. This is in line with Patagonia’s mission statement that promotes sustainable living and environmentally-friendly policies.


Aggressive persona

  • Focus on how the product will help the customer improve himself/herself
  • Emphasize the underlying technology, especially how it relates to performance improvements
  • Focus on your store or your brand’s heritage and history to establish credibility

Example: Most fitness brands fall under this category (see the copy for Keen, a brand of hiking footwear):


The copy lists out the technology used in the shoe and tells the reader how it improves performance.

Ideally, you want to use copy that targets all of these personas on every page. If that’s not possible, you should at least try to figure out the dominant customer persona for each product or category, and use the appropriate copy.

2. Use power words and action words

Staggering. Smashing. Stunning.

These are all examples of power words — words that evoke strong emotions in your readers.

Power words are rarely used in everyday speech (recall the last time you used “staggering” or “sensational” in a casual conversation). This makes them stand out all the more when used in e-commerce copy.

Using power words is the easiest way to elevate your copy beyond the ordinary. A sprinkle of these words can turn boring product descriptions into emotion-generating copy that turns browsers into customers, customers into fans.

See how Firebox uses power words in its product descriptions:

power words

These simple words turn ordinary copy into something far more compelling.

So what are power words like?

Here’s a short list of power words that are particularly useful for e-commerce copywriting tasks.

































































No obligations

No questions asked













































Use action words

Power words evoke emotion, but they don’t drive readers to take action.

For that, you need to use action words in your copy.

These are simply words that describe an action: add, act, take, get, etc.

Let’s take another look at the Firebox product description page:

action words

Action words make your copy sound more energetic and active. They also subtly tell the reader to take some action.

You don’t have to use them excessively. Just pepper them in whenever you want to hammer in a feature/benefit or get your readers to take some action.

Here’s a list of some action words you can use in many different types of copywriting tasks:




























































3. Use the right formatting

Your website visitors don’t read your pages.

They scan.

According to eye-tracking studies conducted by Nielsen, people scan e-commerce pages in an F-shaped pattern:

F-shaped pattern

That is, they first look to the left column, then to the right, then drag their eyes down the page.

This means that users won’t read your copy — however remarkable it may be — unless it’s formatted correctly.

Follow these guidelines for improved e-commerce copy formatting:

  • Follow an information hierarchy. The most important content should go in the first couple of paragraphs. Less important information should be further down the page.

    Take a look at this product page on It lists the most important things about the product, including availability, seller name and key features, at the top of the page:


  • Follow a two-column layout, with the product image on the left and critical product details on the right. People are already used to this convention and will naturally look at the image on the left first, followed by the text on the right. uses this layout on its product pages:


  • Use bullet points for the text to the right of the image (i.e., the most important content). You can use paragraphs for longer product descriptions.

    For example, Amazon mentions each product’s top features in the form of a bullet list at the top of the page:


  • Use information-rich headers to organize the content (such as key features and sizing information). Users will scan these to find what they’re looking for as they scroll down the page.

    NewEgg organizes this information in separate tabs:


BestBuy’s product pages follow a similar structure, but with even better content organization:


  • Use keywords in your copy. Users will quickly scan your copy to figure out details about your product. Adding keywords such as size and price will help them scan your page faster.

    Great examples of this can be found on Target’s product pages, including this one:


Keep these tips in mind when you write your copy. Otherwise, you just might end up creating impeccable content that no one reads.

4. Don’t forget unique pages

Your homepage, About Us page, mission statement, and the like comprise your site’s unique pages.

Unlike product or category pages (which usually follow a template), each of these pages has distinct content, copy, and design.

Optimizing the copy on your unique pages can have a noticeable impact on conversion rates. For one, these pages help customers understand you and your brand. If you can describe your brand in a way that resonates with your target customers, you’ll be able to sell more products at better prices.

Tell a story through your unique pages

When writing copy for unique pages, the standard rules apply: Use power words and evocative imagery.

At the same time, you also want to make sure that your copy weaves a story about your brand.

ThinkGeek does the same by boldly stating its manifesto on its About page:


Emphasize your brand’s history and values

Another way to use copywriting to improve brand perception is to share your brand’s history and values on your unique pages.

For example, has a separate page for its mission statement:


Tell your brand’s story

Your brand is more than just a collection of products. There are real people with real stories behind the business who come together to create all your amazing products.

Highlighting these on a separate “Our Story” page is a great idea.

For example, take a look at how Saddleback Leather does it:


Whatever tactic you use to emphasize your brand’s history and its values, the copy on these pages should reflect your brand.

Key takeaways

Copywriting and conversion rate are inherently related. Good web copy is closely correlated with good conversion rates. Using power words, appropriate formatting, and persona-targeted copywriting can help you drastically improve the copy of your e-commerce website and, by proxy, its conversion rates.

Has your brand made a commitment to enhancing conversion rates with effective copywriting?

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Moz Blog

Supercharge Your Online Marketing Skills: New Training and Workshops from Moz Academy!

Posted by rachelgooodmanmoore

[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]

Do you suffer from average ROI and low-to-moderate page optimization scores? Do you feel like your SEO has lost its spark? Have you sensed there’s something “missing” from your digital marketing strategy? If this sounds like you or someone you know, then have I got some good news for you:

Announcing Moz’s new and improved workshops and training!

Whoa! Let’s check it out!

If you’ve been looking for a way to improve your marketing strategy and get better results for you or your clients, then Moz’s new training and workshops could be the solution for you.

Great! Wait… what?


Chris Pratt

Great question, reader and Chris. Training and workshop sessions are comprehensive, in-depth, interactive classes designed to help you unleash your inner marketing super power. Every class comes coupled with activities like conducting a full website audit, competitive research exercises, keyword brainstorms, and more. Sound like fun? You bet it does. Almost as much fun as these guys are having:


Training AND workshops? What’s the difference?

Glad you asked. Here’s the run-down on what workshops and training are all about:

Workshops are small group classes lead by a member of the Moz Academy team. They’re open to both Moz subscribers and non-subscribers alike (though it helps to have a Moz subscription or trial), and cover best practices and real-world applications for topics like website audits, keyword research, content marketing, and more.

Not just a one-sided webinar, these sessions are meant to be interactive and participants have numerous opportunities to ask questions and dig deeper. What’s more: every student who attends a workshop will leave with a custom worksheet, audit, or other interactive tool.

Access to worksheets and other in-class activities are included in the price of each workshop.

Custom training is just that: fully customized one-on-one or small group training sessions for organizations who want specialized, focused attention from Moz trainers. Custom training curricula can be designed around whatever SEO and traffic generation topics YOU want to learn about, and individual training sessions are customized to your unique business and industry. Prefer to learn in person, in a real classroom setting? Ask if we can come to you!

The best part of both training AND workshops? You’ll leave each session with not only more know-how, but also an actionable plan for how you can improve your strategy moving forward.

Paid training?! From Moz?!

One of the other things that separates these workshops and trainings from other web-based content Moz has provided in the past: they’re paid. We feel these trainings offer a unique experience for attendees that’s worth the investment, but this is, admittedly, a different route for us. To that end, I wanted to provide some transparency as to why we’ve chosen to offer paid training.

The first (and biggest) reason why we decided to go the paid training route? Customers asked for it. Here are a few examples:

“Does Moz offer Professional Services?”

“We are seeking your support and consultancy on what needs to be done on our website in order to rank higher. If that will cost extra, we will pay. Please advise.”

“How much [would it cost] for me to ask you a lot of questions for an hour? I know you guys are the best…would like to do it on the phone…a conference call would be best.”

Despite requests like these, we’d always shied away from offering paid education because of the vast number of free resources we already offer. With educational materials like the Moz Blog, Whiteboard Fridays, our Beginner’s Guides, and beyond, we weren’t sure a paid option would be valuable or useful for users like you.

But as comprehensive as Moz’s free resources may be, they all share two things in common: 1.) They’re self-guided learning tools and 2.) many are one-size-fits-all. Let’s dive into each one of those a bit deeper:

An alternative to self-guided learning

While self-guided learning is great for some, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for all learning styles. Depending on how you learn best, self-serve resources to organize, peruse, and internalize at your own pace can either be the greatest thing since sliced bread or the greatest hurdle to actually learning something new.

To ensure we have a great option for everyone who wants to learn how to get more traffic, we created comprehensive paid trainings that combine an engaging experience with a hands-on activity to help attendees apply the topic at hand to solve a real life pain-point for their organizations.

From a learning modality perspective, this means we’re able to provide resources for all types of learners — even those who learn best from actually doing an activity at hand.

When one-size-fits-all education isn’t enough

Best practices are just that — the best practice to employ for most organizations in most scenarios. But many organizations have their own nuances and specific business cases — and for those folks, one-size-fits-all education and strategy shop talk isn’t always going to address the underlying issue or provide the best solution.

And sometimes, you may feel like this user:

…I know I have, more times than I can count.

To provide a solution for those who feel like one-size-fits-all education isn’t enough for their organization, our custom training option allows us to tailor a unique education program to your specific needs, use cases, and business.

At the end of the day, we believe the live interaction with our trainers and hands-on activities in each session make workshops a whole new ballgame when it comes to education from Moz. We also believe that the depth of instruction and take-home collateral they provide is more than worth the investment — training packages are custom-priced, and workshops are $ 79-per-seat early-bird pricing and $ 99-per-seat regular pricing.

Who are Moz training and workshops for?giphy.gif

Come one, come all! Anyone looking to refine their marketing strategy — specifically as it relates to SEO and getting found online — will find a session with their name on it. While most of our current workshop content is focused towards users with advanced beginner-to-intermediate skill levels, we’ll soon be diving deep and creating content for all levels of expertise. Since our training sessions are fully custom, they can be tailored to match you and your team’s skill level.

Some other folks who might get the most bang for their buck from Moz Academy:

  • Marketers looking to refine their skills and dive deeper
  • Agencies interested in providing more in-depth audits and insight to clients
  • Organizations looking to expand their capabilities
  • Companies who’ve brought on new employees who need training
  • Intern-training program creators
  • Marketers who have seen stagnant or lackluster results and want to supercharge their strategies

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means — and it isn’t meant to be. Why? Because these classes weren’t designed to fill a specific use case: rather, we created them with a specific persona in mind. That persona is someone who wants to constantly push themselves to dive deeper, learn more, and do better marketing.

Why Moz Academy?

All GIFs aside, we’re incredibly excited to share these courses with you because we think they’re going to help marketers from all walks of life supercharge their skills and take their strategies to the next level. Instead of only skimming the surface about big-picture best practices and theoretic applications, group workshop and custom training attendees have a chance to dig deep into the details of SEO and inbound marketing strategy and really get their hands dirty.

Here’s what a couple recent workshop attendees have had to say:

“…the Keyword Planning Worksheet — holy moly that thing is awesome. I’ll definitely be using that over and over again.”

“Presenter was very knowledgable and this could easily have filled many more hours. Great overview to get started with audits using Moz but also third party tools.”

“The technical insights into robots.txt were super helpful — really, the entire workshop was really well done!”

“The presenter did a phenomenal job — everything was super clear, engaging, and easy to apply.”

Learn more about what we cover in each of these sessions or see what’s coming up over at the Moz workshops and training home.

Current topics offered

We currently offer workshops covering four topics:

  • Performing website audits
  • Keyword research strategy
  • Content marketing
  • Gaining the competitive edge

Looking for something a little more tailored to your organization’s specific needs and interests? Our custom training curricula have covered topics like:

  • Link building
  • Video marketing
  • Identifying your target audience
  • Growing your keyword footprint
  • Local search optimization

“That’s great, but what about a class on _____?”

A class on what, you say? Let us know in comments section of this post what sessions you’d like to see! While we currently offer our four flagship workshops, we’re ultimately building the program to encompass a course on everything that goes into a comprehensive traffic generation strategy from start to finish.

If you’re looking for instruction about a particular topic sooner rather than later, drop us a line and let us know a little bit more about what you’re looking for, by when, and for whom — we’d be happy to help provide some custom training if it makes sense for you.

What’s happening to the free videos currently available on Moz Academy?

Nothing, for now. We plan on keeping the free video trainings available for a few more months, but will begin phasing them out later this year. We’ll make sure to provide plenty of advance warning before we do so, though.

Where are we going from here?

Ultimately, we’ll be offering several “tracks” of content that will serve as home to lessons a wide variety of SEO topics (some mentioned above) and at all skill levels. We’d also like to expand just how interactive our courses are (Codeacademy and Treehouse are great inspirations), as well as make it easier for current and future session attendees to connect with each other. We have quite a few other tricks up our sleeves, but you’ll just have to keep an eye on the program to see what we’re up to next!

Interested in learning more about Moz workshops or custom training packages? There’s no time like the present! Get started:

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Moz Blog

Optimizing for Accessibility + SEO: Formatting & Link Overlaps

Posted by Laura.Lippay

[Estimated read time: 13 minutes]

(header photo “Kenzie” by H.L.W. from the Blind Photographers Flickr Group.)

Search engine optimization (SEO) evolved by search engines creating algorithms to automate the classification and ranking of websites, with SEOs manipulating the loopholes in those algos.

Accessibility, on the other hand, is born out of a desire to be inclusive; to connect humans to information through assistive technology (AT).

When we strip down both industries to where a machine is reading a web page, there are a few overlaps. That’s what we’re looking at in this series. If you’re optimizing for search engines, you’re also affecting how people using screen readers and assistive technologies are experiencing your site.

In today’s post on accessibility + SEO, we’re digging into on-page aspects that include formatting text, colors, links, and content that we can’t see see but machines can. The previous post covered structure overlaps, and we’ll cover images, video, and non-text elements in the last post following this one.

Hidden text

There are times when something that can be seen on the page provides information or context that isn’t able to be read by bots or screen readers, like in an infographic image. The text, graphs, and overall context are all in the image, so in this case, you’d want to provide text that screen readers and bots can use for information and context — either visibly or hidden.

There may also be other reasons you want to actively hide text from all visible display, but not from bots or screen readers. An example might be a paragraph that expands to show more text only when clicking on a caret. In this case, the text is hidden by default from the visual experience, but you want to make sure that screen readers and bots can get it.

Screenshot of four questions on a website with carets to open the questions to see the answers. Three are closed and one is opened to expose the answer text.

This table below shows how each of these different methods of hiding content is perceived by sighted users, screen readers and search engines. I’m not an accessibility expert, so if you know of anything different or additional, please do share.

Hidden text method

Who can see the default content with each method?

Sighted visitors

Screen readers

(links are examples of Google caching this method)









Text-indent: -10000




CSS clip




Positioning off-screen in CSS




HTML 5 hidden








*I’d highly recommend not using these hidden text techniques solely for spam, as Google may index hidden text, but doesn’t give hidden text the same weight or ranking effect as non-hidden text, and if it’s abused and has to be manually reviewed, you could find yourself in some trouble.

On that note, let’s dig into two actual common examples: one where the primary content is in an image, so we need to make hidden content available to screen readers and bots, and a second where the primary content is hidden from users by default, and we need to make sure screen readers and bots find it.

Providing text for an infographic

Here’s an example SEOs will love of an infographic where we want to provide the infographic information and context to the screen reader and search engines. The simple way would be to add the text to the page below the infographic, like in this example.

But Ted Drake is an accessibility genius (who has been invaluable with his help in this post series and my interest in a11y in general — thank you Ted), and has also shown us an option to provide the information for screen readers and bots that is invisible to sighted users. The infographic is pulled into a page (or easily shared) via an iFrame and, in addition to the infographic image, that iFrame HTML has all of the descriptive text in clipped content, invisible to the sighted user reading the same content via the infographic, but fully legible and interactive for screen readers and bots that can’t read the infographic.

Check it out for yourself. This page appears in Google search results for the infographic text “The days are longer, but you’re still not able to find time to plan those much-needed getaways.” That text does not actually appear visually on the page.

Side note: Notice that the one with the text on the page, the example I provided above, is ranking higher than the visible text one for me.

Google search results showing the infographic page with hidden text as the third search result after the infographic page with exposed text and a pdf

In this hidden text example, the infographic itself is an image provided on a separate HTML page with the text information in a 1px CSS clip, pulled into that page in the search results via an iFrame.

At first glance the separate HTML page looks like it only has an image on it, but you’ll see in the code that there is also text hidden in a “visually-hidden” CSS class that clips the content, and this text has semantic markup allowing screen reader users to navigate through it, copy text, etc., making it a highly usable, interactive alternative to having the text right on the page.

Screenshot of iframe page showing the infographic alongside the code for the page showing formatted descriptive text in the code.

See it in action with the VoiceOver screen reader here:

Since I know this is going to cause a lot of excitement among the more spam-bent SEOs reading this, I’ll also mention that those who control the spam-tweaking at Google are also aware of this method, and even this specific example. While they’re confident their processes for specifically combating hidden text spam are strong, I can only show this example in good conscience by also saying don’t spam. Google is watching. Do consider this method for accessibility and especially for sharing infographics along with the text content.

Hiding ancillary text

There are times when you want to show the sighted user some text, but have them click something like a caret to expand for more text content if they choose (or skim by it and move on to whatever else is on the page).

I’ve done site audits where the functionality was there (for sighted users), but the content wasn’t indexed because of the way it was coded. You can use display:none for the default content that’s hidden, which will hide the extra content from screen readers and sighted users skimming through the page, but allow access to that content if the caret or link is clicked by either user.

Here’s an example where the Netflix Help pages hide content from the sighted visitor and screen reader unless the visitor chooses to expand and access the content. It’s using display:none in the CSS. It’s accessible to screen readers and sighted visitors and the caret content is indexed by search engines. Win-win-win.

Hidden text do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t use hidden text for spam. Stuffing hidden keywords into a page is not recommended if you want to keep your nose clean for SEO, and can be a terrible experience for screen reader visitors.
  • Do consider sighted and non-sighted audiences: If you need to hide text, consider which method is best to use depending on whether you want a screen reader to see it and a sighted user not to, or if you want all visitors not to.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a mostly old-school SEO practice that still lingers. It is/was very popular on pages where the site is very image-heavy, on old Flash pages, or even on pages with normal content but where the developer wants more text-based keywords on the page. This is done just for search engines, so why do we care if visitors other than screen readers come across it?

Luckily it’s harder to find good keyword stuffing examples these days, so @Joeartdotcom sent me a perfect archived example of a 2007 Patagonia home page with a big image, minimal content, and a bunch of “Search Index Page Description” text. Listen to it via a screen reader (like ChromeVox for Chrome or Fangs for Firefox). Sighted readers can see the text on this Wayback Machine page if you’d like to read along, or just listen to this video.

Keyword stuffing hopefully isn’t as big of an issue as it was back in 2007, but it’s nonetheless still an option, and it’s very likely to annoy your screen reader users.

Keyword stuffing do’s and don’ts

  • Do think ahead when building: Avoid having to keyword-stuff to attract search engines to begin with, and build accessible pages with relevant, indexable text information.
  • Do write naturally. It’s best for everyone, and this can be done using keywords but not abusing keywords.

Size and color contrast of text

People will often use small fonts and low contrast text simply for page aesthetics. SEOs will sometimes use low-contrast small font text to add more keywords to a page without distracting from the rest of the content.

It’s not something I’ll get into detail here, but search engines can consider font size and color. They know what we’re all up to.

Here’s where this can be problematic beyond SEO. Colorblind or color vision-deficient readers may be unable to distinguish certain colors or only see things in black and white or gray shades, and these deficiencies can be mild or severe.

This video shows some color contrast examples that are tough even for readers without color deficiencies.

Additionally, low-vision readers may be elderly readers or may suffer from conditions that affect their vision like glaucoma or macular degeneration, and have difficulty perceiving content that is too small, that doesn’t scale, or is low contrast. Here are some great low-vision examples.

To get a good sense of how assistive technologies can help in these cases, check out this demo of the very cool ZoomText screen magnifier, which can also change color contrast, create cross-hairs or a giant circle on your mouse pointer, and highlight cursor focus or active area focus.

Some people, like legally blind student Kim Russell, are using ZoomText at 12–14x magnification to navigate your site. That’s huge.

There are a lot of font and color do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when you’re designing your pages and/or when you’re considering that extra small, low-contrast text. Check the resources section for a lot more interesting tools and details beyond the do’s and don’ts listed here.

Text size and color do’s and don’ts

  • Don’t use text as an image. When possible use actual text rather than text graphics to avoid pixelation when these text images are enlarged.
  • Don’t rely solely on color to portray information. Users should be able to understand the content if all colors were removed. If link text is indicated only by the fact that it’s red, red-sensitive colorblind users may not see the links. Underlines on links are more visible, regardless of link color.
  • Do maximize the contrast of text. This includes logo text and text in images when possible. Use color contrast tools to find good foreground-to-background contrast of at least 4.5:1 for small text and 3:1 for large text. For example, #757575 is the lightest grey that is accessible on a white background.
  • Do use relative font sizes vs absolute. Sizing fonts by relative percent or em sizes can allow for better resizing than absolute sizing via pixels or points.
  • Do use readable fonts: Try to stay away from cursive, fantasy (decorative), and monospace fonts (ex: Courier), and stick closer to native serif and sans-serif family fonts, utilizing as few different font faces as possible for continuity.

Links and anchor text

Screen reader users often tab through a page to skim the page by its links. The link anchor text is announced at each instance, also announcing “link” along with the anchor text, and the user can hit enter to follow any link in focus.

Descriptive and informative links

Links with descriptive anchor text are a win for search engines and screen readers. When the link describes what it is pointing to, it provides context to both, telling screen reader users tabbing through links what the link points to and, for SEO, providing context as to what the destination page is about and potentially helping that destination rank for that phrase or topic.

Providing context with links can be helpful for screen readers as well. Check out the video below of navigating this example of a webpage created to show bad accessibility. The first logo link is pretty amusing, but also notice the [image description] links, the MORE>> links that don’t provide any context and aren’t connected to the articles that they’re visually connected to on the page, and the infamous “click here” and “read more” links, a familiar downer for SEOs.

Now compare that to this video of a properly created version of the same webpage, navigating much more smoothly through it via headers and links:

And just because you have to see this one to believe it, here’s an example of navigating through the links on my favorite accessibility horror story website:

Avoid pseudo links and buttons

While this isn’t necessarily an SEO overlap, it’s a vast problem for accessibility that is worth calling out in this article. Using the correct markup to create links and buttons is important to make sure those links and buttons are clickable using assistive technologies. The simple rule is to use links to navigate to other places and buttons to initiate an action, and do not use <span> or <div> for these cases as they are not the proper markup and may not work.

Karl Groves has a great writeup on the differences, with some examples and why they’re problematic.

Breadcrumb links

SEOs like our breadcrumb links because, well, they’re links. And they’re keyword-rich. But to screen readers, the absence of context around breadcrumb links can be confusing.

Consider the hidden text methods we looked at earlier to provide a little extra context to screen readers like the text “you are here”:

Listen for the hidden “you are here” in the video below, tabbing through the WebAIM invisible content page.

Link anchor text do’s and don’ts

  • Don’t keyword stuff your links. Let’s say you have a Seattle-focused website with an article announcing the opening of a new coffee shop. You spam the article every chance possible with linked phrases like “coffee shop” and “Seattle coffee shop” and “coffee shop in Seattle” that all link to the coffee shop website. This article is no fun to read for anyone, sighted or not. Don’t do it.
  • Do create descriptive links. When you’re using a screen reader you can tab just through the links on the page. If all of the links say “here,” it’s not very useful for someone using a screen reader who is trying to find a link on the page to something specific.
  • Do use proper link and button markup. Divs and spans are not links or buttons, and empty <a> anchors without an href attribute or with an empty hashtag destination <a href=”#”> are all potentially problematic.
  • Do consider explaining breadcrumb links. Consider hiding a bit of explanatory text offscreen, like “you are here,” before your breadcrumb links for screen readers.

Resources and tools:

If you know of other good tips or resources, please share with us in the comments.

Text formatting

  • Nice article with steps to use color contrast tools and create palette examples
  • W3C Minimum Contrast
  • – examples of low contrast & high contrast text & general spread-the-word awareness that contrast matters
  • WebAIM Color Contrast Checker web-based tool
  • Great low vision examples
  • WebAIM: fonts for accessibility

Hidden text

  • Techniques for hiding text
  • Clip Your Hidden Content For Better Accessibility
  • Tool to experiment with CSS clipper
  • HTML5 Accessibility Chops: hidden and aria-hidden
  • WCAG Contrast Checker browser extension for Firefox
  • Color Contrast Analyzer browser extension for Chrome’
  • WebAIM: Invisible Content

Links and anchor text

  • W3C: Providing link text that describes the purpose of a link for anchor elements
  • Links and Hypertext
  • Links are not buttons. Neither are DIVs and SPANs

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​Take the Stage: MozCon 2016 Community Speaker Pitches are Open

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

[Estimated read time: 3 minutes]

Every year, we take great pleasure in accepting pitches and having community speakers grace our stage. Our community speakers represent a unique opportunity, and our MozCon audience has a lot of love for them.

This year, we’ll have four speakers!

The basic details:

  • To submit, just fill out the form below.
  • Please only submit one talk! We want the one you’re most excited about.
  • Talks must be about online marketing and are only 15 minutes in length.
  • Submissions close on Sunday, June 12th at 5pm PDT.
  • Final decisions are final and will be made in late June.
  • All presentations must adhere to the MozCon Code of Conduct.
  • You must attend MozCon in person, September 12–14 in Seattle.

Everyone who submits a community speaker pitch will be informed either way.


Community speakers get the following:

  • 15 minutes on the MozCon stage for a keynote-style presentation, plus 5 minutes of Q&A.
  • A free ticket to MozCon. (If you already have one, we’ll either refund or transfer the ticket to someone else.)
  • Four nights of lodging covered by us at our partner hotel.
  • A reimbursement for your travel (flight, train, car, etc.), up to $ 500 domestic and $ 750 international.
  • A free ticket for you to give to anyone you would like and a code for $ 300 off another ticket.
  • An invitation for you and your significant other to join us for the speakers’ dinner.

If you’re curious about what the process look like, Zeph Snapp wrote about his experiences as a community speaker.

How do you pick speakers?

We have a small selection committee of Mozzers who review each and every pitch. We start off by reviewing only topics without biographical details, which ensures our first commitment to making sure topics match our audience. Then we look at everything for a holistic view of what you might bring to the stage.

Things to consider for your pitch:

  • Read my post on how to prepare for speaking, from pitching to the actual gig.
  • Review the topics already being presented on at MozCon to avoid overlap and get inspiration.
  • Focus your pitch on online marketing. MozCon is all about actionable information.
  • Your pitch is for MozCon organizations, so detail what you’re talking about. We need to know the actual tactics you’ll be sharing.
  • Keep within the word limits of the forms. Tricky submissions — like linking to Google Docs for more words — will be disqualified.
  • Do not ask speaker selection committee members to evaluate your pitch before submitting it.
  • No amount of lobbying on social media will positively affect your chances at being selected.
  • Bonus: make sure to link to a video of you presenting and past slide decks.

Feeling a bit nervous?

Every speaker at MozCon gets direction on topics and reviews of content and slide decks. We work hard to make sure our audience will love your talk. We encourage pitches from speakers of all backgrounds, knowledge levels, and speaking experiences. At MozCon, we believe in diversity of voices and helping grow speakers in their careers.

We’re happy to help, including:

  • Calls to discuss and refine your topic.
  • Assistance honing topic title and description.
  • Reviews of outlines and drafts (as many as you want!).
  • Best practices and guidance for slide decks, specifically for our stage.
  • A comprehensive, step-by-step guide for show flow.
  • Serving as an audience for practicing your talk.
  • Reviewing your final deck.
  • Sunday night pre-MozCon tour of the stage to meet our A/V crew, see your presentation on the screens, and test the clicker.
  • A 15-person dedicated crew to make your A/V outstanding.
  • Anything else we can do to make you successful!

Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

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SEO for Bloggers: How to Nail the Optimization Process for Your Posts – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

[Estimated read time: 13 minutes]

Success isn’t an overnight phenomenon when it comes to SEO, but with the right process and a dose of patience, it’s always within reach — even if you’re running your own blog. Optimizing your blog posts begins as early as the inception of your idea, and from then on you’ll want to consider your keyword targeting, on-page factors, your intended audience, and more. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out a step-by-step process you can adopt to help increase search traffic to your blog over time.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about blog post SEO, specifically how to nail the on-page optimization process, the thought process, the strategy process, the content creation and optimization for a blog post. So if you are writing a blog, there are a bunch of things that you need to do to be great at SEO, and there are some steps that I think you can follow.

This is not one of those things where I’m going to say, “Oh, you absolutely have to follow this from end to end for every post that you write, and it’s a big, formal, complex process.” A lot of this can be done in your head before you start writing the post, before you start creating it. That’s totally okay. This does not have to add a ton of layers of involvement. But if you use this process as you’re creating each post, which I do many, many times for Whiteboard Friday, this blog post that you’re reading and watching right now, and for all the posts that I write, it can be hugely helpful and eventually transformative in your ability to get search traffic to your blog.

Step 1: Determine the post’s goals

So let’s start. First off, as you should always do, you should determine what the goal of the post is. You should have that in your head or written down before you start creating the post. So that could be:

  • Attract a new audience in this particular sphere.
  • Convince and win over people to my perspective on a particular topic.
  • I’m really trying to promote a product or service with this post.
  • Share some important news about my organization or my company.
  • Share something that’s happening in my sphere.
  • Contributing to a conversation that already exists out in the blogosphere or the social media world or the news world in your space.
  • Answer a question or earn influencer amplification.

Whatever it is, make sure you know what it is before you go into the post. I hate to see folks starting with step three, like doing keyword research when they have no idea what the post goals are.

One thing before we skip to step two is once you know what you’re trying to do here, determine the metric or metrics that matter the most to that goal. So for example, a metric could be visits, just raw traffic. It could be engagement on the post. It could be comments. It could be links.

It could be social shares, because you’re trying to reach a new audience that’s on LinkedIn. You haven’t done very well on LinkedIn in the past, but you think this post is perfectly targeted to that.

Or you’re only really trying to get one or two people’s attention, particular influencers, in which case your metric might be: Did they come and read it? Did they share it? If the answer to that is yes, you’ve accomplished the post’s goals. But you need that metric recorded.

Step 2: Determine the audience you need to reach

Related, determine the audience you’re trying to reach with the post. So that could be potential new readers. It could be existing loyal fans. “Yay,” he’s waving a flag. It could be influencers, folks who have the ability to broadcast your message, and maybe you’re not even trying to attract them to broadcast this particular message, you just want their attention so in the future you can reach them.

Or it might be very specific audience targets, in this case my backpacker readers. Moz does that all the time. For example, I might do a Whiteboard Friday that is specifically for e-commerce websites or specifically for B2B folks. I’m focusing on a particular audience target with that content.

Step 3: Do your keyword research

Now we’re going to do our keyword research, because we know what we’re trying to accomplish and who we’re trying to reach. So we’re going to try and find three to five keyword phrases to target. Why three to five? Because generally, that’s what you can reasonably expect to be able to reach with a single blog post. I’ll talk a little bit more about on-page optimization in a sec.

I’m looking for, as we’ve talked about in our keyword research-focused Whiteboard Friday just a few weeks ago, which you should check out if you haven’t already, we want relatively high volume, low difficulty, high click-through rate opportunity. Meaning, there is a good number of people who search for it, it’s not that hard to potentially rank for, and there are not too many other features in the search result that are going to take away from my potential ability to rank with web content.

If there are, by the way, lots of people who have images or lots of people who have videos in this search result or lots of news content, then you want to think about, “How do I get my post to include those?” I might think about, “Hey, maybe this post should be very visually centric, or maybe this post should be a video.” “Or maybe this post should try and get into Google News.” “Can I get my blog into Google News?” If I can’t, maybe I want to find someone whose platform I can publish on to get into Google News.

All the keywords that you target should have the same searcher intent. What do I mean by searcher intent? I mean that the people who search for those three to five terms and phrases are all trying to accomplish the same goal or very, very similar goals.

So an example might be, if someone is searching for “luxury kids clothes,” that is likely very, very similar to someone searching for “designer children’s fashion,” or “haute couture kids brands.” They all have the same intent. They are thinking about purchasing, or investigating at least what brands in the fashion space offer children’s clothing, and they’re all in the luxury, high-end, haute couture, high-priced space. Perfect. These are all matching that searcher intent.

Step 4: Conduct competitive research

I want to conduct my competitive research. This is where I’m going to go ask questions like:

  • “Who else is ranking for this keyword?” I can just go to Google, take a look at that, or I could look at the SERPs analysis through something like Keyword Explorer.
  • “Who has produced heavily shared content in this space?” So not necessary who’s ranking, but who’s had lots of shares and likes on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Pinterest, all that kind of stuff. BuzzSumo is great for this. You can also use Moz Content’s Search tool. Once you know the answers to these two, you need to determine…
  • “What is it that’s the unique value that I can bring to the table with my blog post?” Unique value meaning not just unique content. Obviously, what you write is going to be different than what other people have written or created. But how are you providing value that is different from what other people have provided?

Is that because your opinions are very unique? Is it because you are providing a better experience? Is it because you’re providing that content in a different format? Is it because you have access to unique researcher data? Whatever those things are, you need to answer that question because we’re trying to go above and beyond what else is out there.

Step 5: Create your post

I’m going to go ahead and create the post, and this is where a lot of that research comes into play. Because I know what my post goals are and who I’m targeting, and some of the keyword research and what people are looking for around this topic, as well as what’s already out there, I can now make a post that is unique and uniquely valuable. This is huge, because it means that my post has much greater potential to reach its audience and to perform well, and to be perceived by both searchers and search engines, as well as sharers and influencers and folks on social media, as much more worthwhile.

I also want to think about, in here, the types of content that I want. So written content is pretty obvious for most blog posts. But I should also think about things like images and graphs or data, video. Do I want to embed content from other places, maybe SlideShare, or I want to embed some rich media file?

Or maybe I want to link to other places out there. Maybe some people have produced content on this and I would like to get their attention, and I would like to reference their work, and so I’m going to link over to them. Maybe I want to embed some quotes or get some quotes from some notable folks about the particular topic or get other opinions for the piece. All of that type of stuff I should think about as I create the post.

Step 6: On-page SEO/keyword targeting

This is the on-page SEO portion. So I’m going to take those three to five terms, and I’m going to think about one of those as the primary keyword phrase that I’m targeting. That’s going to be the one that goes exactly matched in the title and the headline and the URL. I’m also going to think about two to four secondary keywords that I want to attempt to wrap into potentially the meta description and image alt tags and the content itself. I’m going to try and use these keywords intelligently in places like title, URL, meta description, headline, content, images, all those spots.

Then I want to consider any old URLs that I might redirect here. So let’s say that perhaps I have done a blog post on this topic in the past six months ago or two years ago. Do I want to redirect that old post to this one? Or are there posts that I should go out there and find, or content anywhere on my site or on any site that I control or influence, where I want to link to this content, this new post that I’m writing now that I’ve created it? This can be helpful for discovery. It can also be helpful for internal linking, helpful to your audience who’s reading your old stuff, and helpful to search engines to find, index, and hopefully rank your new content.

Step 7: Craft an outreach + amplification plan

I need some way to do outreach and amplification, and I want to plan for that. So the questions I’m asking here are:

Who do I want to reach? Who do I think will help me amplify this?

How am I going to target them? How am I going to reach out to them? Is it going to be via email? Is it going to be via Twitter? Am I going to see them in person? Do I have a direct relationship? Do I need an introduction? Do I want to comment on something that they have done, whatever that might be?

When should I do that? Do I want to do it beforehand, because I’m trying to get them to look at the content or contribute something to it prior? Or do I want to do it after I’ve published it and promoted it, and why?

Meaning, why is this person going to help me? What does it do for them or for their audience? Does it make them look good? Is it something that in the past they have shared lots of things like this, but this one is uniquely valuable or better, or provides new information that they didn’t have before? You need an answer to all of those questions when you create that plan.

Step 8: Experiment, learn, & iterate

I’m going to experiment, I’m going to learn, and I’m going to iterate on this. So look, in this process, some of these things, for a big, big post you might spend a lot of time on each of these steps very thoroughly. For a post that’s sort of a toss-away, quick opinion, I’m trying to write it in an hour or less and get it published, maybe I’m just thinking about these things in my head and doing real fast keyword research and targeting, and the rest of it’s sort of just a mental model that I have. But regardless of that, I’m going to expect that this process is going to be repeated dozens of times, 30, 40, 50, 70 times even, before I should expect my first success, especially if you’re a new blog or new blogger, and that I’m going to have to do it hundreds of times before I’ll have a relatively high hit or a high success rate, where lots of your posts are doing well and earning you rankings and ongoing traffic and social shares.

This is not something where you follow this process and you have instant results with your first post. That’s not the case. No one has that in blogging. That’s just not how it works. You’re going to launch, promote, analyze, apply the information that you learn, and launch again. This process is going to happen over and over, and the more you learn and apply, the better you’re going to get at this system.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and we will see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by

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Instagram was down for a while, and everyone thought it was the worst April Fools’ prank ever



Instagram was down this morning, and it wasn’t very funny.

The service was not only unresponsive on mobile: the Instagram website at one point consisted only of a “5xx Server Error” message. However, the problems seem to already be resolved, as both the mobile and the desktop version can be accessed.

SEE ALSO: April Fools’ prank asks you to mail in your used condoms for good of the planet

Of course, Instagram users immediately flocked to Twitter to either complain or make fun of the service. 

We’ve reached out to Instagram about the reasons behind the outage and will update the article when we know more.  Read more…

More about Twitter, Social Media, Instagram, and Tech

Social Media

North Korea officially blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube



North Korea has officially announced it is blocking Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and South Korean websites in a move underscoring its concern with the spread of online information.

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications announcement was posted this week at the country’s main mobile service provider, Koryolink, and other places serving Internet users.

Very few North Koreans have Internet access. Typically they can see only a sealed-off, government-sanctioned intranet. But foreigners had previously been able to surf the Web with almost no overt restrictions, though most likely with behind-the-scenes monitoring of their Internet activities. Read more…

More about Social Media, North Korea, and Tech

Social Media