Real Specific Review
You need Traffic if you’re going to run a successful online business. As an internet marketer, you have MUST have lots of targeted traffic going to your sites. You won’t be successful if you can’t drive targeted traffic to your sites and make money from those visitors.
In the real world, most of us really struggle to get traffic and engagement as it takes a lot of time and effort … and results can never be guaranteed.
If this sounds like you then it’s time to find a solution.
Traffic and engagement are the two important factors that measure how well your online business performs. In the following review of Real Specific I’m going to introduce you to the features of Real Specific, so you can decide if this is the right traffic tool for you.
How Does Real Specific Work?
Real Specific is a totally cloud-based automation tool … it’s very easy to start using Real Specific by following 3 simple steps which only take around 60 seconds:
With Real Specific, you will be able to easily curate content then post on your WordPress sites and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. This social sharing will help boost your traffic and engagement.
Step 1: Choose your niche, configure instantly your automated content curation jobs
Step 2: Connect to your blogs (via the Real Specific WP plugin) and easily connect your social media accounts
Step 3: … then sit back and let Real Specific send you traffic and increase social engagement.
You can build traffic the old fashioned way and spend hours and hours every week writing your own unique content and posting to your sites and social media accounts. … but why do it the hard way?
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Who Should Use Real Specific?
The ultimate goal of Real Specific is to help marketers get more visitors to their sites. If you don’t want to spend hours searching for content, posting content and then sharing on social media then Real Specific could be just right for you.
This tool does not require a high level of technical skills, you will only need a basic understanding of content marketing to be able to get the best results.
Watch this Real Specific Demo Video below to see how easy this system is:
Real Specific Demo Video
Real Specific Explainer Video
Why Should You Buy Real Specific?
The creators of Real Specific, Justin Anderson, and Shane Brooks have spent many, many months building and testing Real Specific so when they launched it, it was working just right. These guys have been into SEO and content marketing for the past decade … and because they were sick of the old traffic method, they decided that there had to be a better way to generate traffic … and now Real Specific has been born.
My Own Experience with Real Specific
I’ve been using Real Specific on some of my own WordPress blog sites and I’m finding it just so easy to use. I just log in to Real Specific to find and curate viral content … then post instantly to my sites, share those posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn .. and with just a few clicks. And if I want, I can even schedule some of my posts for a later date. It’s so easy!
… of course, there are other services that offer viral content curation (Hootsuite, BuzzSumo, Buffer etc … but these can be complex to use and they charge a hefty fee.
Evaluation and Pricing for Real Specific
Front End: Real Specific-Power $42 (one-time cost)
- Post to 10 sites
- Post to 50 social accounts
- Five custom feeds for niche specific content
OTO 1: 5X Pro And SEO Upgrade
OTO 2: Traffic Training
Pros and Cons
- Easy to follow set-up instructions
- Easy to use … simply select the viral content you like, then hit post.
- Search trending articles or videos in any niche on total autopilot
- Automatically curate content to social pages and blog sites
- Proven to get results (case study and testimonials)
- Complete manual curation feature built in .. allows you to curate just the way you want.
- Excellent customer support and Facebook group
- Comes standard with only 5 custom RSS feeds for niche specific content … but you can swap these around by deleting the ones you aren’t using and adding others as you need, however, you can only have a maximum of 5 active feeds at any one time.
- You will find it hard to stop posting all the awesome viral content that Real Specific finds for you.
- There is a Pro Upgrade that offers 5x what is included in the standard front-end offer .. but there is a recurring monthly charge for the Pro version.
Being able to fully automate discovery and posting is a serious game changer and can completely eliminate manual work. We feel this feature is super powerful and plan on changing it to a paid upgrade after our public launch.
WordPress themes based on three PROVEN sites: Viral Nova, Upworthy, and IFLScience. If you’re starting fresh or are tired of using a theme that just isn’t quite working, go with something that has been proven to get engagement.
Offer your WordPress site visitors 24/7 live chat support to answer questions, capture sales, and increase the passion of your tribe. Includes resale rights and a basic sales page so you can have a product to sell as well.
WP EZ Viral Contest: $ 170/YEAR VALUE
Many marketers are utterly frustrated with the results of their blogs. They receive a good amount of traffic, but the bounce rate is through the roof. WP EZ Viral Contest solves this issue by enabling you to run your very own contest, engage your subscribers, and build your list from your WordPress Blog.
I think the Real Specific-Power front end offer should be sufficient for most of us … and it’s great value at only $42. This is the version that I have been using myself and it does everything I need.
Real Specific Review Introduction You need Traffic if you're going to run a successful online business. As an internet marketer, you have MUST have lots of targeted traffic going to your sites. You won't be successful if you can't drive t... Read more
You’ve spent months perfecting the script, storyboarding, finding the right talent, shooting, and editing. The end result? A blockbuster brand or product video.
With all that time invested, you can’t stop at just embedding the video on a homepage or sharing it on social media and hoping someone watches.
While great content is bound to be found, it’s also important to be proactive about gaining the attention of and educating prospects and those unfamiliar with your brand. Running a series of YouTube ads is one way to make sure more of your target audience finds the video content you’ve produced.
The thing is, advertising on YouTube is very different from running a PPC or paid social campaign. There are specific creative constraints and a ton of options for this platform, and you need a base knowledge before you even scope out your next video project to make the most of the paid possibilities.
What’s New With YouTube Advertising
In January 2017, Google announced it would make changes to AdWords to allow advertisers to reach more viewers on YouTube — especially across mobile devices, where 50% of YouTube views take place. Among the changes it rolled out, possibly the biggest announcement was that advertisers will soon be able to target viewers based on their Google search history, in addition to their viewing behaviors YouTube was already targeting.
Marketers can now target ads at people who recently searched for a certain product or service to target the video ads they’ll be served on the platform. If the content of a video ad is closely related to a search the viewer has been researching, they might be more likely to watch the entire ad or click through the ad to the website.
Keywords are relatively less expensive to target on YouTube than in traditional Google Search: Views cost an average of $0.06 per click on YouTube, compared to the average Google Search cost per click, which is estimated to be between $1-2. When YouTube targeting includes search history, it may be a more cost-effective way to target your audience with a more engaging form of content — video.
The 3 Types of YouTube Video Ads
There are three key types of video ads in which you can invest on YouTube: TrueView, Preroll, and Bumpers.
1. TrueView Ads
TrueView ads are the standard video ad type on YouTube. Advertisers only pay for TrueView ads when viewers watch or interact with their ad (for example, by clicking on a call-to-action), and videos can be easily customized to share a variety of content.
Advertisers only pay when a user watches the ad for at least 30 seconds or until the end of the video or if the viewer takes an action, such as clicking on a call-to-action. YouTube requires that skippable TrueView ads be between 12 seconds and 6 minutes in length, and that non-skippable TrueView ads be 15-20 seconds in length.
There are two types of TrueView ads with which you can optimize your YouTube channel:
Video Discovery Ads (Previously Named In-Display Ads)
Video discovery YouTube ads show up on the YouTube homepage, search results pages, and as related videos on YouTube video watch pages.
These ads appeared after performing a YouTube search:
This display ad appears as a related video on the right-hand video sidebar:
Once a user clicks on the ad, the destination video page features a spot on the right-hand column where a companion banner display ad will appear.
TrueView in-stream ads play before someone watches the video they’ve selected on YouTube. Viewers sometimes have the option to skip the ad after watching it for five seconds. You can also make them play anywhere in the Google Display Network (GDN) — or sites that purchased Google video ad space.
In-stream ads let marketers customize video ads with different CTAs and overlay text, as highlighted in the skippable in-stream ad example below from Grammarly.
Here’s what another skippable in-stream ad from Wix looks like. In this example, there’s another CTA from Wix on top of the right-hand video menu display:
What TrueView Videos Can Include
TrueView video campaigns can include people, dialogue, and music that was retrieved with permission — or is considered royalty-free. However, it’s best not to run a standard promotional commercial. Because these videos can be skipped, you need to give your audience a reason to keep watching, and product plugs historically don’t get the views you might expect.
Instead, tell a story with the time you have in this video. People love seeing case studies of those who faced a struggle that they can empathize with. It’s a source of entertainment that makes your brand memorable and less tempting to skip.
With TrueView ads, advertisers can gain a ton of information about the performance of their ads for optimization and testing purposes.
Using AdWords, YouTube account managers can collect data on an ad’s completed views, partial views, if the video drives channel subscriptions, clickthrough rates on CTAs, views sourced from a user sharing the content, and views on the brand’s other content that can be attributed to a person initially viewing a video ad.
These actions help advertisers better understand the full value of their video ad spend and where to allocate budget to increase results.
2. Preroll Ads
Here’s an example of a non-skippable video ad before the main content on YouTube:
Source: PC Daily Tips
What Preroll Videos Can Include
Preroll ads give you just as much freedom as TrueView ads in their allotted content. You can include people, dialogue, audio, and more elements that you find best represent your brand in 15 to 20 seconds.
Because preroll ads can’t be skipped, these videos are best created with a call-to-action (CTA) so you can optimize the attention you do have from the viewer. In other words, encourage viewers to click on your ad and receive something in return. Perhaps you’ve released a new product or promoting a major event this season and are looking for signups — use this preroll ad to get those clicks.
Keep in mind YouTube sells Preroll video space on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. Make the click worth it.
Bumpers are the third and shortest type of YouTube video ad available to you. At just six seconds per bumper, these ad spots play before a viewer’s chosen video.
Bumper video ads obviously can’t tell a good-enough story in just six seconds, but they make terrific complements to larger video campaigns on a new product launch or event. Just be sure to use this six seconds wisely, and include only the components of your brand you want your audience to remember.
How to Set Up & Launch a YouTube Video Advertising Campaign
Once you’ve created a marketing video you want to advertise on YouTube, it’s time to create your video ad campaign. (If you haven’t made a video yet, here’s how to get started with Animoto or Wistia, along with a few great examples.) Then, upload your video to YouTube.
Now, you’re ready to set up your advertising campaign. First, go to your Google AdWords account to set up your campaign.
Tap the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the red “+ Campaign” button on your Google AdWords homepage and select “video.”
Enter a name for your campaign, and make sure Video has been chosen from the Type drop-down menu.
Video Ad Format
Select “In-stream or video discovery ads” to ensure your video ad will be in TrueView format (in the style of the examples outlined above).
Set your budget per day. You can also select a delivery method — either the standard delivery, which shows ads evenly during the day, or accelerated delivery, which drives views as quickly as possible. The latter would be useful if you want to capitalize on a trend or news item relevant to your brand’s video.
Decide where you want your ad to appear.
YouTube Search: Your video ad will appear in results for searches and will appear on the YouTube home page, channel pages, and video pages. YouTube Videos: This runs TrueView ads that can appear in-display ads or in-stream ads. With this option, you can choose for your video ad to appear before or around videos shown across the Google Display Network.
You should create separate campaigns for YouTube Search and YouTube Video as this will help you to better track performance metrics. These ads are served to people performing very different activities and require a different amount of commitment from the viewer, so it’s best to monitor performance separately.
Define the location of users whom you want the ad to be shown to. You can also exclude certain locations.
Language, Device & Mobile Bidding
AdWords will let you specify the operating system, device, and carrier for more advanced targeting. This is especially useful for mobile app ads, and there’s an option to increase or decrease your bid based on if the video ad is shown to someone on a mobile device.
With the advanced settings section, you can set begin and end dates for your campaign, create a custom schedule for when your video ad should be shown, and limit the daily impressions and views for users. This all helps you to get the most return for your ad spend.
Creating the Video Ad Creative
Name your ad group, and then insert the YouTube link for the video you would like to run the ad for. You will then choose whether you want this to run as an in-stream ad or an in-display ad.
For in-display, you’ll need to include a title and short description, which is entered on two separate lines. Note: Titles are limited to 25 characters, and the description lines are limited to 35 characters each.
In-stream ads provide you with the option to overlap a display URL on top of the video. You should use a vanity URL that directs to another final URL to make it more memorable. You can include advanced URL tracking options. In addition, a companion banner made from images from your video will appear on the right side of the video ad.
You’ll then determine the max price you will pay for each view, which you can adjust to increase the number of projected views your video may receive.
Finally, you can further define the audience you would like the video to be shown — options include gender, age, and parental status. You can also target individuals by their interests, such as beauty mavens, cooking enthusiasts, horror movie fans, etc. Try running multiple campaigns to target different groups of users to discover who is most engaged, rather than including everyone you want to target in one campaign.
You can also target individuals by keywords, topics, or websites where you would like your video ad to appear. Keyword targeting with in-display ads can be a powerful tool for finding individuals who are looking for a visual answer to a question. Be sure to do your research, and try testing out different groups of keywords to see which leads to more views, clicks, or conversions.
Additionally, you can use AdWords video ads to remarket to people who have been in contact with your brand already. This can help you to re-engage those who are already familiar with your brand.
Linking Your Account
You should link your AdWords account to the YouTube channel where the video is hosted if you haven’t already. You can also click “finish” to begin running your video ad campaign.
10 Tips for Optimizing Your AdWords for Video Ads
Launching a video ad campaign is a great step, but there are some things you should set up prior to starting to pay for views to make the most of your budget and to see the highest return for your client.
1. Define your metrics and goals.
When analyzing the results, there are four main categories of metrics you can track for each video. These are located under the “column” drop-down in your campaigns interface.
Under the “views” category, you can better understand what percentage of the ad people viewed and understand how the ad drove earned views or views on your brand’s other videos.
This category can be used to track likes and shares for each video ad.
The view rate should signal if the creative and message are interesting or entertaining enough for people to watch the ad. By increasing your view-through rate (VTR), you will lower your cost per view.
Conversions will help you better understand if your ad is driving leads and returning a high ROI for your brand.
Depending on the goals for the brand, you should determine a few goals based on these metrics and formalize a plan for optimizing creative and trying different targeting criteria to improve results. Your goals should also determine the type of content you will feature in the ad — some metrics are better for branding goals and others will drive leads and conversions.
2. Track low performing placements.
If you’re running in-display ads that will appear across the Google Display Network, you can review where the ad has appeared in by navigating to Video Targeting > Placements > Where ads were shown > Display network from your Google AdWords Campaigns dashboard. Review this list to see if any particular sites are contributing to poor performance for your desired metrics. Exclude these sites from your ad campaign moving forward to increase your average CPV.
3. Use a custom thumbnail image.
Design or use a high-quality still image from the video to entice a viewer to click on your video. Remember, this image needs to be legible by users on different devices, including mobile. If your image contains a person, make sure he or she is looking into the camera. If you are featuring a product, make sure the background isn’t distracting.
4. Drive people to buy with cards.
A YouTube card is teased with a small “i” symbol, which the viewer can click to expand. You can time this appearance so only users engaged with the video and content will see the notification.
With cards, you can feature a product related to or featured in the video to drive product purchases. You can also use cards to drive fundraising donations, traffic to a URL, or traffic to other videos as shown in the example below from Refinery29. Each format will allow you to customize the card with text, images, and other options.
5. Create calls-to-actions.
When promoting a video on YouTube, you can include call-to-action overlays that link to a URL. You could link to a landing page, product page, information page, career page … whatever you’d like. You could also send people to a favorable report or interview featuring the brand.
Adobe highlights one of its live videos using a call-to-action overlay:
6. Create a YouTube end slate.
Create an end screen to drive subscribers to your channel, promote your social networks, or increase interest in your brand. If someone has watched a video until the end, it’s a good sign they enjoy your content and might be interested in subscribing to your channel for future updates. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’s end slate uses this screen to drive subscribers and social media fans while also highlighting other interesting topics its host has featured. Once you build the image, you will be able to annotate the end screen in YouTube’s video editor.
7. Use negative remarketing.
If you are running a campaign for a longer period of time and want to only attract new users to a brand, consider creating a list of people who your ad will not be shown to. When viewing your AdWords Campaign screen, select “Shared library” on the lower left sidebar. Then select “Video remarketing” and “+ Remarketing List”. You can stretch your campaign budget and target only unique users by selecting to not show your video ad to someone who has previously viewed the specific video, who has visited your YouTube channel, or shared, liked, or commented on any of your videos on your channel.
8. Use close captioning to cater to viewer’s needs and wants.
This tip applies to all YouTube videos — but it’s a general best practice that’s not followed by many brands. Include a quality video transcription you’ve generated and approved. Only user-uploaded transcriptions are indexed by Google because YouTube’s automatic captioning can be less than reliable. Depending on your target audience, you may also want to include transcriptions in various other languages. You can also offer users the option to download or visit a site page with the full transcription in your video description.
9. Qualify viewers.
Sometimes, your ad will be seen by people who have no interest in your product. Encourage them to skip the ad if the content isn’t relevant so you don’t have to pay for the view and they don’t waste their time watching irrelevant advertising.
10. Consider making your ad longer.
When it comes to TrueView ads, if the ad is under 30 seconds, you pay only if a viewer watches until the end. If the ad is longer than 30 seconds, you pay if the viewer watches it for at least 30 seconds. In both cases, you pay if the viewer interacts with your ad before it’s over. Consider this when you are coming up with ideas for content for the ad. You may want to put messaging at a certain point so uninterested viewers can skip the ad, or you might provide special offers towards the end of the video.
The Future of Video is Bright
We’ve told you before: Video content is a must-have part of your content strategy. This is even truer now that YouTube lets marketers target users based on their search histories. YouTube advertising is more targeted than ever, and it’s less competitive real estate than the world of Google Search because video content is newer to the content scene and less popular than blog posts.
Stay tuned for more from us about how to make great video ads for YouTube and social media, and where we think YouTube marketing is headed next.
Read more: blog.hubspot.comYou've spent months perfecting the script, storyboarding, finding the right talent, shooting, and editing. The end result? A blockbuster brand or product video. With all that time invested, you can't stop at just embedding the video on a homepag... Read more
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I’ve been using SiteGround hosting (‘GoGeek’ plan) for about 3 years and can stand behind my recommendation 100%, because … they are simply the very best hosting company that I have ever used … and believe me, I’ve had some bad experiences in the past with hosting providers that promise a lot, but ultimately fall short. However, Siteground has never disappointed me. They have a good selection of pricing plans to offer, so if this is your first time hosting a website or you’ve been doing this for years, SiteGround has a plan that will suit your needs. Plus, one of their very best features is their excellent customer support. No matter what hosting company you use, there will come a time when you will need some help and SiteGround are very, very good at helping you via prompt email support, or my favorite, ‘one to one’ live chat with one of their extremely knowledgeable support staff.
SiteGround Hosting Review
I migrated my website to SiteGround’s GoGeek hosting in January 2015.
In the past, I have used ‘Brain Host’ – Disaster! changed over to NetRegistry … and then to NetOrigin (Australian), but … eventually, after many problems, I moved everything to the Siteground Hosting’s ‘GoGeek’ plan which is semi-dedicated hosting and roughly 4x faster than the ‘StartUp’ plan. That is the biggest difference between GoGeek and their other shared hosting plans – the amount of server resources you get which is the main factor when it comes to hosting and site speed. So this means that your website will load faster with the higher plans.
You can see a StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek comparison chart on SiteGround’s features page which also shows you the extra server resources you get under the “we allocate the resources you need” section. But I will go over these in features later in this review. With the ‘GoGeek’ plan, you basically get more server resources, 1-click staging to create demo websites, 10GB more storage than ‘GrowBig’ … and the SiteGround support staff will restore your website for you if at some stage you should need a full site restore.
I do honestly believe that the ‘GoGeek’ plan is awesome for those who want super faster hosting for just $14.95/month. (Please note that this price was accurate at the time this was posted)
SiteGround Hosting ‘GoGeek’ Plan – Features
- Yes, I Currently Use The ‘GoGeek’ Plan
- Semi-Dedicated Hosting = 4x Faster
- Create Demo Websites With 1-Click Staging
- Backup/Restore Service By SiteGround Support
- Let’s Encrypt + Wildcard SSL With PCI Compliance
- StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek Comparison Chart
- Priority Support: Tickets are Usually Answered Within 15 Minutes
I Currently Use The ‘GoGeek’ Plan
…and I only write reviews about things that I have actually used … and only for products that I am personally very happy with.
Semi-Dedicated Hosting = 4x Faster
If you look at SiteGround’s features page under “we allocate the resources you need” you’ll see that as you upgrade plans you also get about 2x the amount of server resources. GoGeek has the highest amount of server resources and is about 4x faster than lower shared hosting plans.
12 Reasons Why SiteGround ‘GoGeek’ Is So Good
- More server resources (equals faster websites)
- You can host multiple websites with priority support
- You get higher limits on your storage, database, and email
- You can create a staging site so you can ‘test before launch’
- SiteGround support will restore your site for you if a disaster happens
- You can get a pre-installed Git which allows you to create repositories
- You can use their PCI compliance to help prevent credit card fraud
- 30 daily backups, automatic updates, free domain, and hosting migration assistance
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- NGINX servers, SSD drives, 4 data centers, Cloudflare and other speed technology
- Security protection from a team who constantly updates servers during new threats
- Pay as little as $14.95 per month (‘GoGeek’ Plan) … for simply awesome hosting
Create ‘Test Sites” with 1-Click Staging Tool
The SiteGround Staging tool (included in the ‘GoGeek’ plan) is designed to provide WordPress and Joomla users with an ‘easy-to-use’ way to create and manage development copies of their websites. You don’t need to make experiments on your own site that your visitors will see or even break your site while you are testing a new feature – this is the right tool to use for developing new features before going live. This is especially nice for testing changes that may be risky and break your site.
“Cowboy coding” is a term for all developers and designers that make changes of their websites on the live environment. Eventually, everyone makes mistakes and in such case you really hope you have a backup. Don’t be a cowboy coder, use the SiteGround Staging environment!
Backup/Restore Service By SiteGround Support
The SiteGround ‘GoGeek’ plan comes with 30 daily backups, a free backup & restoration tool, and you can even ask SiteGround’s support team to restore your site from a backup if you feel you need their help. If you’re not comfortable with restoring your website to an earlier version, but you want a reliable team who can just in case something happens, you now have that luxury with the ‘GoGeek’ plan.
Let’s Encrypt + Wildcard SSL With PCI Compliance
If you need hosting for an eCommerce site … the ‘GoGeek’ plan comes with features that the ‘StartUp’ and ‘GrowBig’ plans don’t have; including a free Let’s Encrypt SSL, Wildcard SSL (for use on subdomains), and PCI compliance for safer credit card processing … and SiteGround supports most major shopping carts.
Comparison Chart for the ‘StartUp’ – ‘GrowBig’ and the ‘GoGeek’ Plans
A full comparison of SiteGround’s shared hosting plans can be found at:
- Automatic updates
- Free domain + email
- Free Cloudflare CDN
- Free hosting migration
- Free Let’s Encrypt SSL
- Security + spam prevention
- SSD (solid state drives) for speed
- Servers on 3 continents for speed
- NGINX servers, HTTP/2, PHP7, HHVM
- Host unlimited websites
- 4x more server resources
- Advanced caching = faster load times
- Priority support
- 30 daily backups + restore service
- Wildcard SSL Certificate
- One-click staging
- SG-Git for repo creation
- PCI Compliance
- ~ 100,000 visits, 30GB space
Priority Support: Tickets Usually Answered Within 10 Minutes
SiteGround’s ‘GrowBig’ and ‘GoGeek’ plans both come with priority support where tickets are usually answered within 10 minutes … or, you can call SiteGround and speak with them instantly. Over the years I’ve had just a few issues on my sites that I needed to contact support about and they were always very helpful and had the answers to fix my problems, …which were usually the result of something that I had broken myself. And don’t worry about asking a stupid question … they are very helpful no matter what your level of expertise.
Speed: SG Optimizer Caching Tool
If you’re running WordPress and want your site loading as fast as possible, you can use SiteGround’s caching plugin (SG Optimizer) included in the SiteGround ‘GoGeek’ Plan
- Semi-dedicated servers are much faster than regular shared
- More server resources mean less chance of CPU overages
- Priority support means tickets are answered immediately
- Premium backup + restore service done is by SiteGround support
- Includes eCommerce features like Wildcard SSL + PCI compliance
- Very reasonable price for what you get
- Pricing is expensive for some
- In-house caching good, but there are better options out there, but you will have to pay for them (recommendation: Viper Cache)
- Premium SSL’s can be expensive after the free 1 year
I've been using SiteGround hosting ('GoGeek' plan) for about 3 years and can stand behind my recommendation 100%, because ... they are simply the very best hosting company that I have ever used ... and believe me, I've had some bad experien... Read more
Google search has surpassed Facebook as a top source of mobile referral traffic, according to a new report from Chartbeat.
The post Referral Traffic From Google Search Surpasses Facebook on Mobile Devices by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
Read more: tracking.feedpress.itGoogle search has surpassed Facebook as a top source of mobile referral traffic, according to a new report from Chartbeat. The post Referral Traffic From Google Search Surpasses Facebook on Mobile Devices by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Sear... Read more
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Posted by Tom.Capper
If you’ve ever compared two analytics implementations on the same site, or compared your analytics with what your business is reporting in sales, you’ve probably noticed that things don’t always match up. In this post, I’ll explain why data is missing from your web analytics platforms and how large the impact could be. Some of the issues I cover are actually quite easily addressed, and have a decent impact on traffic — there’s never been an easier way to hit your quarterly targets. ;)
I’m going to focus on GA (Google Analytics), as it’s the most commonly used provider, but most on-page analytics platforms have the same issues. Platforms that rely on server logs do avoid some issues but are fairly rare, so I won’t cover them in any depth.
Side note: Our test setup (multiple trackers & customized GA)
On Distilled.net, we have a standard Google Analytics property running from an HTML tag in GTM (Google Tag Manager). In addition, for the last two years, I’ve been running three extra concurrent Google Analytics implementations, designed to measure discrepancies between different configurations.
(If you’re just interested in my findings, you can skip this section, but if you want to hear more about the methodology, continue reading. Similarly, don’t worry if you don’t understand some of the detail here — the results are easier to follow.)
This was originally inspired by 2016-era best practice on how to get your Google Analytics setup past ad blockers. I can’t find the original article now, but you can see a very similar one from 2017 here.
Lastly, we have (“DianaTheIndefatigable”), which just has a renamed tracker, but uses the standard code otherwise and is implemented on-page. This is to complete the set of all combinations of modified and unmodified GTM and on-page trackers.
Overall, this table summarizes our setups:
GTM or on-page?
GTM HTML tag
Yes – “tcap”
GTM HTML tag
Yes – “buffoon”
I tested their functionality in various browser/ad-block environments by watching for the pageviews appearing in browser developer tools:
Reason 1: Ad Blockers
Ad blockers, primarily as browser extensions, have been growing in popularity for some time now. Primarily this has been to do with users looking for better performance and UX on ad-laden sites, but in recent years an increased emphasis on privacy has also crept in, hence the possibility of analytics blocking.
Effect of ad blockers
Some ad blockers block web analytics platforms by default, others can be configured to do so. I tested Distilled’s site with Adblock Plus and uBlock Origin, two of the most popular ad-blocking desktop browser addons, but it’s worth noting that ad blockers are increasingly prevalent on smartphones, too.
Here’s how Distilled’s setups fared:
(All numbers shown are from April 2018)
Vs. Adblock with “EasyPrivacy” enabled
Vs. uBlock Origin
GTM + renamed script & function
On page + renamed script & function
Seems like those tweaked setups didn’t do much!
Lost data due to ad blockers: ~10%
Ad blocker usage can be in the 15–25% range depending on region, but many of these installs will be default setups of AdBlock Plus, which as we’ve seen above, does not block tracking. Estimates of AdBlock Plus’s market share among ad blockers vary from 50–70%, with more recent reports tending more towards the former. So, if we assume that at most 50% of installed ad blockers block analytics, that leaves your exposure at around 10%.
Reason 2: Browser “do not track”
This is another privacy motivated feature, this time of browsers themselves. You can enable it in the settings of most current browsers. It’s not compulsory for sites or platforms to obey the “do not track” request, but Firefox offers a stronger feature under the same set of options, which I decided to test as well.
Effect of “do not track”
Most browsers now offer the option to send a “Do not track” message. I tested the latest releases of Firefox & Chrome for Windows 10.
Chrome “do not track”
Firefox “do not track”
Firefox “tracking protection”
GTM + renamed script & function
On page + renamed script & function
Again, it doesn’t seem that the tweaked setups are doing much work for us here.
Lost data due to “do not track”: <1%
Only Firefox Quantum’s “Tracking Protection,” introduced in February, had any effect on our trackers. Firefox has a 5% market share, but Tracking Protection is not enabled by default. The launch of this feature had no effect on the trend for Firefox traffic on Distilled.net.
Reason 3: Filters
It’s a bit of an obvious one, but filters you’ve set up in your analytics might intentionally or unintentionally reduce your reported traffic levels.
For example, a filter excluding certain niche screen resolutions that you believe to be mostly bots, or internal traffic, will obviously cause your setup to underreport slightly.
Lost data due to filters: ???
Impact is hard to estimate, as setup will obviously vary on a site-by site-basis. I do recommend having a duplicate, unfiltered “master” view in case you realize too late you’ve lost something you didn’t intend to.
Reason 4: GTM vs. on-page vs. misplaced on-page
Google Tag Manager has become an increasingly popular way of implementing analytics in recent years, due to its increased flexibility and the ease of making changes. However, I’ve long noticed that it can tend to underreport vs. on-page setups.
I was also curious about what would happen if you didn’t follow Google’s guidelines in setting up on-page code.
By combining my numbers with numbers from my colleague Dom Woodman’s site (you’re welcome for the link, Dom), which happens to use a Drupal analytics add-on as well as GTM, I was able to see the difference between Google Tag Manager and misplaced on-page code (right at the bottom of the <body> tag) I then weighted this against my own Google Tag Manager data to get an overall picture of all 5 setups.
Effect of GTM and misplaced on-page code
Traffic as a percentage of baseline (standard Google Tag Manager implementation):
Google Tag Manager
Modified & Google Tag Manager
On-Page Code In <head>
Modified & On-Page Code In <head>
On-Page Code Misplaced In <Body>
There are a few main takeaways here:
On-page code generally reports more traffic than GTM
Modified code is generally within a margin of error, apart from modified GTM code on Internet Explorer (see note below)
Misplaced analytics code will cost you up to a third of your traffic vs. properly implemented on-page code, depending on browser (!)
The customized setups, which are designed to get more traffic by evading ad blockers, are doing nothing of the sort.
It’s worth noting also that the customized implementations actually got less traffic than the standard ones. For the on-page code, this is within the margin of error, but for Google Tag Manager, there’s another reason — because I used unfiltered profiles for the comparison, there’s a lot of bot spam in the main profile, which primarily masquerades as Internet Explorer. Our main profile is by far the most spammed, and also acting as the baseline here, so the difference between on-page code and Google Tag Manager is probably somewhat larger than what I’m reporting.
I also split the data by mobile, out of curiosity:
Traffic as a percentage of baseline (standard Google Tag Manager implementation):
Google Tag Manager
Modified & Google Tag Manager
On-Page Code In <head>
Modified & On-Page Code In <head>
On-Page Code Misplaced In <Body>
The further takeaway here seems to be that mobile browsers, like Internet Explorer, can struggle with Google Tag Manager.
Lost data due to GTM: 1–5%
Google Tag Manager seems to cost you a varying amount depending on what make-up of browsers and devices use your site. On Distilled.net, the difference is around 1.7%; however, we have an unusually desktop-heavy and tech-savvy audience (not much Internet Explorer!). Depending on vertical, this could easily swell to the 5% range.
Lost data due to misplaced on-page code: ~10%
On Teflsearch.com, the impact of misplaced on-page code was around 7.5%, vs Google Tag Manager. Keeping in mind that Google Tag Manager itself underreports, the total loss could easily be in the 10% range.
Bonus round: Missing data from channels
I’ve focused above on areas where you might be missing data altogether. However, there are also lots of ways in which data can be misrepresented, or detail can be missing. I’ll cover these more briefly, but the main issues are dark traffic and attribution.
Dark traffic is direct traffic that didn’t really come via direct — which is generally becoming more and more common. Typical causes are:
Untagged campaigns in email
Untagged campaigns in apps (especially Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Data sent from botched tracking implementations (which can also appear as self-referrals)
It’s also worth noting the trend towards genuinely direct traffic that would historically have been organic. For example, due to increasingly sophisticated browser autocompletes, cross-device history, and so on, people end up “typing” a URL that they’d have searched for historically.
I’ve written about this in more detail here, but in general, a session in Google Analytics (and any other platform) is a fairly arbitrary construct — you might think it’s obvious how a group of hits should be grouped into one or more sessions, but in fact, the process relies on a number of fairly questionable assumptions. In particular, it’s worth noting that Google Analytics generally attributes direct traffic (including dark traffic) to the previous non-direct source, if one exists.
I was quite surprised by some of my own findings when researching this post, but I’m sure I didn’t get everything. Can you think of any other ways in which data can end up missing from analytics?
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Read more: tracking.feedpress.itPosted by Tom.CapperIf you’ve ever compared two analytics implementations on the same site, or compared your analytics with what your business is reporting in sales, you’ve probably noticed that things don’t always match up. In... Read more
The early days of SEO were like the Wild, Wild West.
Blackhat SEO experts were doing everything imaginable to rank their sites on Google.
That included keyword stuffing and creating spammy backlinks on a regular basis.
And for a time, it totally worked.
But these days, those older SEO hacks are long gone.
Now we deal with a much more sophisticated algorithm that pushes innocent-sounding updates like Hummingbird and Panda.
But as innocent as they sound, they can create some real problems for your ongoing SEO efforts.
One of those updates that affected SEO forever is known as Penguin and it specifically dealt with how Google uses backlinks to evaluate page rank.
And with Penguin now a part of the core Google algorithm, the anchor text you use in your backlinks and internal links is more important than ever.
So in this guide, I want to show you how to optimize your anchor texts so that they will positively impact your SEO.
But before we go there, you have to understand how anchor texts work at all.
What is anchor text, and why bother?
Even if you don’t realize it, there’s a good chance that you use anchor texts on a daily basis.
Anchor text is the clickable text that you see in a hyperlink.
So if the Internet is a highway, then you can think of anchor texts like signs for upcoming exits.
They send signals to both your website’s user and search engines.
And when used correctly, they will connect you to a different “lane” by allowing you to source credible information from another website.
They also play a role in helping users navigate your site as well.
If you were to look into your site’s code, you would see a line that looks like this:
This is the part of your site that Google is going to see.
There is a section that tells your web browser and search engines which link to follow.
Here’s how that translates to what’s on your page:
Or when a user clicks on the link, it will navigate them to the indicated page.
If you’ve never dug into the details of URLs before, it’s easy to imagine that merely creating a link is where the fireworks end.
But there’s a much more profound reason for brands to focus on this one simple element.
As I previously mentioned, in 2012 Google decided to rock the SEO world by releasing the Penguin algorithm.
Due to this change, anchor text quickly became the easiest way to determine how relevant a reliable website was.
Google also started using backlinks and its anchor texts to see if a website had been over-optimized.
And since Google penalizes over-optimization in this case, the role of the anchor text was only magnified.
Since 2012, Google has updated the Penguin algorithm multiple times with dramatic effect each time.
More than a few brands saw massive traffic dips as shown by the orange line:
In many instances, traffic dips like this will also mean a dip in revenue.
Dip too far from too many hits, and your brand could be in trouble.
Or on the opposite side of that coin, if you don’t optimize your anchor texts from the start these days, you’ll never see traffic at all.
The changes hit 3.1% of websites that had been over-optimizing their anchor texts.
And those are just the bigger websites that were visible with each successive update.
At the very least, it’s clear that the anchor text used in backlinks is an SEO signal for the foreseeable future.
And with the recent Penguin 4.0 update in 2016, the game has changed once again.
Instead of rolling out on a progressive basis, Penguin now penalizes offending sites in real time for any anchor text errors.
Google now will only penalize the offending page instead of entire sites, but that could still affect your traffic and revenue in the long run.
So now that you know just how important anchor texts are to your traffic, let’s start diving into the different ways you can create an anchor text.
The different types of anchor texts
When it comes to search engines, SEO experts like to leave no stone unturned.
And in the case of anchor texts, we’ve had more than a decade to parse through all of the available information.
So it should not surprise you that there are a wide variety of ways that you can create anchor texts that are both useful and useless.
First of all, there are exact match anchor texts.
An exact match anchor text is when you use the same words as the targeted keywords for your entire page.
In the early days of SEO, using exact matches enough times on a single page almost guaranteed that your post would do well.
They were overused to such an enormous extent that, as mentioned previously, Google started to penalize overuse.
It’s still a good idea to use some, but in general, you should lean toward other types of anchor texts.
Next is a partial match anchor text, which is when you include your keyword along with other words.
As you can see here, I will typically try to use a few of these on my own site:
This is a helpful method to anchor text because I can still effectively include my keyword without coming across as spammy.
Google can still follow my link and have a better idea of the content that’s on my page without suspecting me of trying to manipulate its algorithm.
And since this will not be seen as manipulative linking practice, it’s a highly recommended way to boost the authority of your page.
Next, you also have branded anchor texts that rely on a brand’s name to establish authority.
As an outbound backlink, this is a great practice.
This is another safe and effective way to build a stronger anchor profile, as it signals to Google that you’re pointing toward other high-quality tools and services.
Of course, you also want to try to find other brands that will help you with your link building efforts in this way as well.
But don’t hesitate to link to another brand, especially with a keyword attached to it.
Google sees that as a healthy practice so long as you’re not over-linking to that brand.
Next up is the naked anchor text, which is basically just the website name.
In most cases, this is considered unhelpful.
When reading content, it’s pretty disruptive to suddenly read a URL instead of text that’s more topically suited.
This type of interruption can be off-putting and ultimately lead them away from your site.
It also might lead your visitor to believe you’re not as technically inclined as you should be, which ultimately calls into question your authority.
So whenever possible, avoid this type of anchor text.
After that comes a slightly better use called a generic anchor text.
You’ve probably seen a lot of these, as they’re much better suited to utilizing flow in your content and even prompt a call to action.
You can’t help but agree that these anchor texts are simple and generic, hence the name.
Use this type of anchor text when you want to draw your audience’s eye to a credible source or useful tool.
But don’t use it too much.
A repetitive “this page” and “over here” link practice can get pretty boring really quickly, and it doesn’t tell Google anything about the content you’re linking to.
The next option is known as Latent Semantic Index keywords or LSI for short.
While this may sound complicated, it’s really just the method that search engines use to predict what users will type into the search bar.
When I type “what is anchor” into Google, the search bar provides a series of other popular search options for me to select from.
The idea of using LSI keywords as anchor text is to create search-friendly elements of your site that Google can instantly recognize as relevant to a unique search.
And while there’s debate over the validity of this approach, it’s still not a bad idea to implement this approach when you can.
Of course, you want to make sure that you can naturally use these types of keywords in your content.
“What is anchor baby” or “what is anchor app” might be difficult to use in a way that flows as a coherent thought, so be aware of that when adding these to your blog or website.
Last but not least, you can also use an image anchor to help users navigate in and around your website.
In these instances, Google will read the alt tag of your image as the anchor text.
And if you don’t have an alt tag optimized, then Google will read it as a noText anchor, which you should avoid.
This method is a great way to vary your anchor text methods and provide a more non-traditional approach.
As long as your user knows they can click on it, then feel free to include one in a blog post or on your site.
But now that you’ve learned more about the various types of anchor text, it’s time to start diving into some best-practice SEO tips.
These will be simple, basic guides that can help you develop a more nuanced strategy with time.
To get started, let’s talk about keeping you anchor texts relevant and helpful to your content.
Tip #1: Stay on topic
The unfortunate truth is that there’s a lot of misconception about what good anchor text is.
But when it comes to SEO in your linking practices, relevancy is high on the list when it comes to what Google wants to see.
That means your anchor text should consist of words and phrases that closely match the topic of your embedded link.
Say for example you run a company that offers content marketing services to small businesses.
If you want visitors to your site to navigate to a blog post you created about the importance of content, you would need to add a link.
In that link, you need to select a word or phrase as your anchor text that is related to the content on your blog.
Otherwise, Google will see that hyperlink as manipulative and potentially penalize your site.
Here’s an example of what that could look like in your content:
In the image above, I’ve used the anchor text “how to structure your URLs.”
That introduces the concept that I want my reader to understand and shows them that they should be able to find relevant information on that topic.
Here’s what you would see if you follow that link:
On the other side is a blog post that’s an exact match to the topic I introduced.
Imagine what would happen if instead of a helpful blog post, I linked to a page that was attempting to sell you sunglasses.
You would be confused and probably wouldn’t ever want to follow another link on my blog.
You probably wouldn’t come back and read my content because it is seen as manipulative.
So Google isn’t the only one looking for relevance here.
If you want to establish trust with your website’s visitor, they need to know that you’re using sources and linking practices that are in their interest.
In one study, it shows that having at least one keyword anchor that signals relevancy creates a greater chance of ranking higher.
That means Google still values a keyword-relevant anchor text that provides a good idea about the topic of your content.
As long as you try to keep at least some of your anchor texts relevant, Google will have an easier time categorizing your content and ranking you accordingly.
Tip #2: Always incorporate variation
If you always want an exact match, Google’s spam filter will go off and you’ll take a hit.
If you always only link to brand names, you’ll probably have a similar effect.
When it comes to creating a strategy for anchor texts that help SEO, I’ve found that using your own unique and varied approach is best.
That flies in the face of typical advice you see that focuses on which anchor texts you should use based on certain ratios.
In this instance, it’s recommended to use 5% exact match, 20% phrase match, and so on.
The issue with these types of recommendations is that they vary widely based on whoever is advising you about what to do.
As you can see, there’s a wide gulf between these two recommendations.
In one case, it’s recommended to only use 25% branded anchor texts.
In the other, the prescription is for 50%.
Who is right?
Or are any of them right?
The answer is nuanced, and it ultimately depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
In both cases, you can follow the prescribed advice and attempt to establish a baseline methodology for your anchor text practices.
But once you get a baseline, you should do what works best to boost your SEO and organic rankings and that requires a more in-depth evaluation.
I make this recommendation based on a study that displayed the after effects of Penguin 4.0 on a variety of different brands across different niches.
After the update, the first brand decreased its “target” or exact match keywords and redistributed its anchor text strategy more widely.
Once the changes were implemented, it fought its way back to its pre-Penguin 4.0 standing on Google.
But just compare the graph above to this one:
The most notable difference is that they are different.
And in each case, both are ranking well.
So what does that mean for ration prescriptions and other similar anchor text optimization schemes?
You should take them with a grain of salt.
While it may work for one brand, there’s no guarantee that it will work for you.
Plus, it’s incredibly tedious to try and exactly match another brand’s strategy to the letter.
Instead, you should focus on creating a more natural distribution for your anchor text scheme.
All of these variations rely on very natural language and display a clear intent to both search engines and your user.
By focusing on experimentation and natural language in your anchor texts, you’re more likely to see better results in the long run.
Tip #3: Test and track your anchor texts
Tracking how you use anchor texts on your site will take a bit of effort, but it’s the only way to test how they affect your SEO over time.
To start tracking the variety of anchor texts you use, I recommend using the Anchor Text Categorizer Tool by Linkio.
This tool will ask you to fill in various details about your content, including the URL, page title, your brand name, and your keywords.
You should also fill in the exact anchor texts you use in the content, as you can see below.
In this case, I’ve filled in a few from an actual blog post from my site.
There’s also a helpful percentage calculator just to the side of your screen.
This is where you can start creating a baseline for your anchor text procedure.
As I mentioned in the previous point, you can attempt to implement another brand’s scheme or develop your own.
As long as you see a wide variety of anchor texts that help your SEO, then you’re taking the right approach.
Another good idea is to start using SEMrush to keep tabs on what types of anchor texts link to your site.
To find this info, you’ll need to navigate to the Backlinks tab of the SEMrush dashboard.
From there, you’ll click on the option that says Anchors.
Now you can see which terms are being used by other brands when they link to your site.
Remember that anchor texts are largely used by Google as a signal of content relevancy and domain authority, so these anchor texts are vital to your SEO.
In my case, most anchors to my site are either my name or something marketing related.
That’s good because my name is my brand, and I help businesses grow through digital marketing.
These anchor texts took years to build, but because of the content I produce and the relationships I’ve built, they help my SEO and in many cases my articles rank on the first page of Google.
With enough time and the right approach to your own backlinking, you can build this type of backlink anchor base for your own brand and see excellent results.
Anchor texts are nothing new, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important.
Since 2012, Google has had anchor texts and backlinks on an ever-tightening leash, so it’s a good idea to ensure that you’re using the best approach for your own SEO.
Brands have been hit hard by Penguin in the past, and there’s always the chance it could strike again.
Knowing the various types of anchor text will help you create a well-rounded arsenal to use in your content and on your website.
As long as you keep your anchors contextually relevant, they will send a positive signal to Google’s crawlers.
It’s also a good idea to implement your own variation strategy based on your findings.
And speaking of findings, using tools like Anchor Text Categorizer and SEMrush will ensure that you don’t miss any important changes to your anchor text SEO efforts.
If you follow these tips, your anchor text strategy will be strong enough to boost your SEO and potentially weather any future changes.
What strategies have you used to improve your anchor texts?
Read more: neilpatel.comThe early days of SEO were like the Wild, Wild West. Blackhat SEO experts were doing everything imaginable to rank their sites on Google. That included keyword stuffing and creating spammy backlinks on a regular basis. And for a time, it to... Read more
Posted by Lea-Pica
If you find your presentations are often met with a lukewarm reception, it’s a sure sign it’s time for you to invest in your data storytelling. By following a few smart rules, a structured approach to data visualization could make all the difference in how stakeholders receive and act upon your insights. In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we’re thrilled to welcome data viz expert Lea Pica to share her strategic methodology for creating highly effective charts.
Hello, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m here to talk to you this week about a very hot topic in the digital marketing space. So my name is Lea Pica, and I am a data storytelling trainer, coach, speaker, blogger, and podcaster at LeaPica.com.
I want to tell you a little story. So as 12 years I spent as a digital analyst and SEM, I used to present insights a lot, but nothing ever happened as a result of it. People fell asleep or never responded. No action was being taken. So I decided to figure out what was happening, and I learned all these great tricks for doing it.
What I learned in my journey is that effective data visualization communicates a story quickly, clearly, accurately, and ethically, and it had really four main goals — to inform decisions, to inspire action, to galvanize people, and most importantly to communicate the value of the work that you do.
Now, there are lots of things you can do, but I was struggling to find one specific process that was going to help me get from what I was trying to communicate to getting people to act on it. So I developed my own methodology. It’s called the PICA Protocol, and it’s a visualization prescription for impactful data storytelling. What I like about this protocol is that it’s practical, approachable. It’s not complicated. It’s prescriptive, and it’s repeatable. I believe it’s going to get you where you need to go every time.
So let’s say one of your managers, clients, stakeholders is asking you for something like, “What are our most successful keyword groups?” Something delightfully vague like that. Now, before you jump into your data visualization platform and start dropping charts like it’s hot, I want you to take a step back and start with the first step in the process, which is P for purpose.
P for Purpose
So I found that every great data visualization started with a very focused question or questions.
Why do you exist? Get philosophical with it.
What need of my audience are you meeting?
What decisions are you going to inform?
These questions help you get really focused about what you’re going to present and avoid the sort of needle in a haystack approach to seeing what might stick.
So the answers to these questions are going to help you make an important decision, to choose an appropriate chart type for the message that you’re trying to convey. Some of the ways you want to do that — I hear you guys are like into keywords a little bit — you want to listen for the keywords of what people are asking you for. So in this case, we have “most successful.” Okay, that indicates a comparison. Different types or campaigns or groups, those are categories. So it sounds like what we’re going for is a categorical comparison. There are other kinds of keywords you can look for, like changing over time, how this affects that. Answers or opinions. All of those are going to help you determine your most appropriate visual.
Now, in this case, we have a categorical comparison, so I always go back to basics. It’s an oldie but goodie, but we’re going to do the tried-and-true bar chart. It’s universally understood and doesn’t have a learning curve. What I would not recommend are pie charts. No, no, no. Unless you only have two segments in your visual and one is unmistakably larger than the other, pie charts are not your best choice for communicating categorical comparison, composition, or ranking.
I for Insight
So we have our choice. We’re now going to move on to the next step in the methodology, which is I for insight. So an insight is something that gives a person a capacity to understand something quickly, accurately, and intuitively. Think of those criteria.
So here, does my display surface the story and answer these questions intuitively? That’s our criteria. The components of that are:
Layout and orientation. So how is the chart configured? Very often we’ll use vertical bar charts for categorical comparison, but that will end up having diagonal labels if they’re really long, and unless your audience walks around like this all the time, it’s going to be confusing because that would be weird. So you want to make sure it’s oriented well.
Labeling. In the case of bars, I always prefer to label each bar directly rather than relying on just an axis, because then their eyes aren’t jumping from bar to axis to bar to axis and they’re paying more attention to you. That’s also for line charts. Very often I’ll label a line with a maximum, a minimum, and maybe the most important data point.
Interpretation of the data and where we’re placing it, the location.
So our interpretation, is it objective or is it subjective? So subjective words are like better or worse or stupid or awesome. Those are opinions. But objective words are higher, lower, most efficient, least efficient. So you really want your observations to be objective.
Have you presented it ethically? Or have you manipulated the view in a way that isn’t telling a really ethical picture, like adjusting a bar axis above zero, which is a no-no? But you can do that with a line graph in certain cases. So look for those nuances. You want to basically ask yourself, “Would I be able to uphold this visual in a court of law or sleep at night?”
Location of that insight. So very often we’ll put our insights, our interpretation down here or in really tiny letters up here. Then up here we’ll put big letters saying this is sales, my keyword category. No. What we want to do is we want to put our interpretation up here. This top area is the most important real estate on your visual. That’s where their eyes are going to look first. So think of this like a BuzzFeed headline for your visual. What do you want them to take away? You can always put what the chart is here in a little subtitle.
Make recommendations. Because that’s what a really powerful visual is going to do.
I always suggest having two recommendations at least, because this way you’re empowering your audience with a choice. This way you can actually be subjective. That is okay in this case, because that’s your unique subject matter expertise.
Are your recommendations accountable to specific people? Are they feasible?
What’s the cost of not acting on your recommendations? Put some urgency behind it. So I like to put my recommendations in a little box or callout on the side here so it’s really clear after I’ve presented my facts.
C for Context
The next step in the methodology is C for context. What this is saying is, “Do I have all the data points I need to paint a complete picture, or is there more to this story?” So some additional lenses you might find useful are past period comparison, targets or benchmarks are useful, segmentation, things like geography, mobile device. Or what are the typical questions or arguments that your audience has when you present data? They can be super value contextual points.
In this case, I might decide that while they care about the number of sales, because that’s most successful to them, I care about the keywords “conversion rates.” So I’m going to add a second bar chart here like this, and I’m going to see there’s a different story that’s popping out here now.
Now, this is where your data storytelling really comes into play. This particular strategy is called a table lens or a side-by-side bar chart. It’s what I recommend if you want to combine two categorical metrics together.
A for Aesthetics
Now, the last step in the methodology is A for aesthetics. Aesthetics are how things look. So it’s not about making it look pretty. No, it’s asking, “Does my viz comply with brain best practices of how we absorb information?”
1. Decrease visual noise
So the first step in doing that is we want to decrease visual noise, because that creates a lot of tension. So decreasing noise will increase the chance of a happy brain.
Now, I’m a crunchy granola hippie, so I love to detox every day. I’ve developed a data visualization detox that entails removing things like grid lines, borders, axis lines, line markers, and backgrounds. Get all of that junk out of there, really clean up. You can align everything to the left to make sure that the brain is following things properly down. Don’t center everything.
2. Use uniform colors (plus one standout color for emphasis)
Now, you’ll notice that most of my bars here have a uniform color — simple black. I like to color everything one color, because then I’ll use a separate, standout color, like this blue, to strategically emphasize my key message. You might notice that I did that throughout this step for the words that I want you to pick out. That’s why I colored these particular bars, because this feels like the story to me, because that is the storytelling part of this message.
Notice that I also colored the category in my observation to create a connective tissue between these two items. So using color intentionally means things like using green for good and red for bad, not arbitrarily, and then maybe blue for what’s important.
3. Source your data
Then finally, you always want to source your data. That increases the trust. So you want to put your platform and your date range. Really simple.
So this is the anatomy of an awesome data viz. I’ve adapted it from a great book called “Good Charts” by my friend, Scott Berinato. What I have found that by using this protocol, you’re going to end up with these wonderful, raving fans who are going to love your work and understand your value. I included a little kitty fan because I can. It’s my Whiteboard Friday.
So that is the protocol. I actually have included a free gift for you today. If you click the link at the end of this post, you’ll be able to sign up for a Chart Detox Checklist, a full printable PICA Protocol prescription and a Chart Choosing Guide.
I would actually love to hear from you. What are the kinds of struggles that you have in presenting your insights to stakeholders, where you just feel like they’re not getting the value of what you’re doing? I’d love to hear any questions you have about the methodology as well.
So thank you for watching this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I hope you enjoyed it. We’ll see you next week, and please remember to viz responsibly, my friends. Namaste.
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