How to Create a Customer Journey Map (Even if You Have No Idea Who Your Customers Really Are)

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This post was first published by Neil Patel.

How to Create a Customer Journey Map (Even if You Have No Idea Who Your Customers Really Are)

Creating a customer journey map is enough to make even the best marketer freeze in their tracks and realize how little they really know about their prospects.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry.

Even if you’ve never created a buyer persona before, I’ll help you make sense of the process by giving you a sort of “map” to help you better understand who your customers are and what they want.

Let’s take a closer look.

Starting Fresh: The Basics of the Customer Journey Map 

A customer journey map is a diagram that illustrates each step in the buyer journey, including who the customer is, what their needs are, and what objections they face.

This map makes it easier for sales, marketing, and executives to make more informed decisions and humanize your audience.

The very first step in a customer journey map is the core demographic information about your customers, such as:

  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Job title
  • Job responsibilities
  • Salary
  • Region
  • Company size

You’ll likely find most of this data in your CRM. If not, a survey can give you a clear picture of who your audience is and what they do.

I also recommend “humanizing” the persona by giving them a name and image. This brings out more of our emotional, empathetic side, versus looking at the potential customer as a number to slot somewhere in a sales funnel like a puzzle piece.

Now that you have the basics let’s look at an example of a customer journey.

A Customer Journey Map Example 

For our example here, we’ve chosen to work with Lucy, a marketing director in her late 40s.

Her job primarily entails lead generation, sales management, and gathering competitive intelligence.

She organizes and prioritizes campaigns. She’s a pro at gathering competitive intelligence and uses it wisely to reinforce the brand while cementing customer loyalty in a very competitive marketplace.

Because of the huge growth in social media, Lucy’s looking to streamline the interaction process on social media without losing the “personability” of the brand.

She’s in the market for a solution and wants to make a confident decision quickly.

So with this in mind, our persona map is going to look something like this so far:

customer journey map

To stick with the map concept, this is our starting point. Next, it’s time to look at the journey.

Our first stop along the map is the buyer’s needs.

She has the basic research to know what’s out there. If we were looking at this from a traditional sales funnel point of view, she’s at the “comparison shopping” stage.

She’ll be looking to make a decision soon.

Understanding the Buyer’s Needs

Buyers are eager to tell you what they need. All you have to do is ask.

Basic lead follow-up and nurturing questions can reveal quite a bit. Simple polls and surveys can often reveal a great deal about where the buyer actually is in the process (and whether they have an urgent need for your product or service versus basic curiosity).

Even if we don’t know specifically what they need, we can make a few general statements that apply them to our persona.

What would someone in this job typically need from our solution?

For starters, the buyer likely needs the product to be well documented. She’ll be managing dozens, perhaps hundreds of staff members – some of whom (based on age) may be more technically savvy than she is.

Some of the staff may pick it up quickly; others may need more time.  We’ll add the needs and the persona’s place in the decision-making process (one persona can have multiple roles in the decision process — they can be a user and initiator, for example)

customer journey map example lucy

There’s also the fact that whatever solution needs to be adaptive and flexible to accommodate existing platforms and tools.

The company likely has certain procedures and requirements that will be added to the mix, like cloud-based access and specific security protocols.

These factors can influence and even conflict with what the primary buyer wants. The committee often makes decisions like these, which lengthens the time needed and the requested features.

Dealing with Common Objections in Customer Journey Maps 

Like all maps, there will be roadblocks that prevent your customer from taking action. You’ll want to outline those in your customer journey map.

There are constraints and concerns, frustrations, and issues that will affect their decision. You can brainstorm these obstacles and add them to your customer journey map to ensure that sales know how to address the most common objections before becoming major pain points.

You also have to decide where this buyer falls on the scale of decision-making.

Will they be using the product? Influencing the decision-maker? Initiating contact with the company? A mix of all of these?

Make a note of these objections and the buyer persona’s place in the decision-making cycle on your map.

Following our example, we end up with something like this:

customer journey map example

Here, we’ve managed to discover (and brainstorm) the buyer’s potential:

  • Needs
  • Concerns
  • Frustrations
  • Urgency/Timeframe to Buy
  • Place in the buying cycle
  • Requirements

All the kinds of sales-propelling information needed to acknowledge objections, concerns, and frustrations while concentrating on needs, requirements, and urgency.

We’ve learned core demographics about our buyer and key information that may be preventing them from taking action or details that could move a sale into the next stage.

Our customer journey map is less of a neatly-organized, bulleted list, and more like a mind-map that’s always being adjusted and revised. It may not be as tidy, but our customer journey map is closer to the actual customer experience — and therefore far more useful.

Think about the last time your company made a major purchase. It’s seldom a “beginning to end” one-time shot, right?

There are many details to hammer out, presentations to sit through, and suggestions and sign-offs to gather.

It’s a big process, and a fancy list of bullets just doesn’t cut it anymore – not in today’s two-way communication world.

Create a Customer Journey Map for Each Type of Customer 

Now, you need to go through this entire process with every type of buyer your company encounters. Each type of customer will have a different buyer path, objections, and challenges.

For example, if retail, you’ve got suppliers, wholesalers, resellers, and a whole avalanche of personas out there. Each buyer you have must be addressed individually.


Don’t panic, prioritize. Focus on your most profitable customers first and find the unifying threads that tie them together, then build on that persona. Once you have those down, start working down the list until you have all your customer journies mapped.

And remember that buyers are multi-faceted human beings.

Sometimes they make decisions that go against the grain of even the most well-developed persona. It happens.

Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination, and the easier you make that journey, the more receptive the buyer will be to taking the action you want them to take.

Are you planning to create a customer journey map? What is holding you back? 

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How Does Google Keen Compare to Pinterest?

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google keen vs pinterest

Google launched a social platform that, if it takes off, could give Pinterest a run for its money. Called Google Keen, it’s a curation tool that allows users to collect not only content from around the web, but also text and images, and save them to their keens, Google’s version of a board.

In a press release announcing its launch, CJ Adams, co-founder of Keen, had this to say about the new social platform: “Keen isn’t intended to be a place to spend endless hours browsing. Instead, it’s a home for your interests: a place to grow them, share them with loved ones and find things that will help in making this precious life count.”

As you add search terms and curate content, Keen uses AI and machine learning to suggest only the content you’d really be interested in, so you can focus only on the projects that matter to you.

It’s quite a departure from the M.O. of every other social media platform out there, which does everything in their power to keep you scrolling, reading, sharing, or pinning. With Keen, users (and marketers) have the opportunity to get hyper-focused on a topic and curate only the most relevant and most valuable content for it.  

What is Google Keen?

Adams explained how he came up with the idea for Keen when he and his wife realized they were spending hours scrolling through social media without accomplishing anything productive:

It was powerful to tell each other what we wanted to spend more time on. And once we did, we found that collecting related ideas, links and resources together gave us a way to spend more time on our shared passions in real life.

To explore this idea further, four colleagues and I created a new experiment called Keen as part of Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental projects. We worked in close collaboration with a team at Google called People and AI Research (PAIR), dedicated to human-centered machine learning systems, to develop this experiment.

On the surface, Google Keen looks like a stripped-down version of Pinterest. The major difference is it’s intended not for users to get sucked down the rabbit hole of endless pinning and scrolling, according to the press release, but as a tool for users to curate only the content that speaks to their interests.

Instead of using search history from around the web to populate its suggested content, as Pinterest does, it uses machine learning that focuses only on what a user explores and saves on Keen.

How Does Google Keen Work?

Signing up for Keen is very easy. Within minutes of signing up, which of course you can do with your Google account, you’re in and exploring content. Once you’re logged in, you start by creating a Keen. A keen is a topic board where you’ll curate your content.

In the example below, I started with “content marketing.”

How Does Keen Work

Once you enter an initial search term, Google Keen will suggest search terms that you can save to your keen. These will be the terms Google Keen uses to populate suggested content for you. The more you choose, the more tailored your content will be.

Google Keen keyword suggestion

After you’ve chosen your search terms, choose a cover image for your keen, and write a description.

Once you’re done, your keen will look something like this.

Google Keen Choosing cover image
Google Keen by CJ Adams

This is a keen curated by CJ Adams and his colleague Benjamin Pitt. The diamond icon below the cover image represents the number of content pieces, or gems, that have been saved to this keen. The lightning bolt lets you know how many new items there are to explore.

If you click into the keen, your screen will look like this.

Google Keen Curated Content Example

The gems tab shows you everything you’ve already saved to your keen. The Explore tab is content Google Keen suggests you check out. If it’s your own keen, you’ll also see a search tab that lets you edit or add the terms Google is using to search for relevant content for you.

Here’s what my keen looks like for content marketing.

Google Keen Curated Content for Marketing

As you explore more content and save more to your gems, Google’s search algorithm gets to know you better, and serves up more relevant content.

After saving more gems and organizing my keen a little more, I got more accurate suggestions for my content marketing keen. I even saw one of my own pieces to curate!

Neil Patel Content on Google Keen

If you go back to your home screen, you’ll notice Google Keen suggests other keens for you to explore. These will get more relevant over time, as well, as you add new keens and curate content.

You can follow these keens and they’ll show up on your home screen.

As you create keens of your own, you can choose to make them public or private, or to share them directly with other users.

Can you already see the difference between Keen and Pinterest?

Google Keen vs. Pinterest

There are a lot of aspects of Google Keen that echo the user experience on Pinterest. The way you save and share content, create and customize keens, and discover new content is very similar to the way Pinterest’s pins and boards are set up.

But there are some fundamental differences between the two. It all boils down to Keen’s desire to be a place for pure content curation with a clear goal in mind.

Pinning vs. Curating

Pinning on Pinterest and curating content on Keen essentially work the same. On Keen, the content you save to your keens are called gems.

Pinterest, of course, allows you to pin content from around the web, and then organize it onto boards. Within the boards, you can see more refined content suggestions, and you can organize your current pins into smaller boards that roll up into a larger board category.

The key thing here, though, is that everything you pin comes from other websites.

On Google Keen, you can add much more than web content to your gems. You can also save text, links, and images, much like you would do in Evernote or another note-taking app.

Just like Pinterest and their boards, you can organize your content within your keens into sections. But you won’t automatically see suggested content in your keen unless you navigate to the Explore tab.

While Pinterest makes it very easy to get lost in endless content suggestions, Keen very deliberately makes it more work to discover content. That way, you’re spending time curating only what is truly important and productive for the user.

The Social Aspect of Google Keen

Both Pinterest and Keen allow you to make curated content public. You can also share your boards and pins/keens and gems with other users.

On Keen, however, you can invite other users to collaborate on a keen. For example, if you and a friend are avid gardeners, you can both save ideas to the same keen to use in your community garden.

However, unlike Pinterest, there are no updates from accounts you’re following. There’s nothing like Today’s Picks on Pinterest, and there is no messaging functionality. In that way, there is less opportunity for recommendations from peers.

You will only see alerts when new things are added to the keens you’re already following. They appear below the keen’s cover image, next to the lightning bolt icon.


Google Keen is too new to have developed its own influencer environment, but there are influencers from other platforms already curating on Keen.

YouTuber Hermione Chantal, for example, has a few keens for her DIY and interior design content. She has one keen devoted to home goods from H&M. Pinterest, on the other hand, is loaded with its own influencers.

Keen presents an opportunity for users to become influencers on the platform and for marketers to get the products in front of new talent.

Content Discovery on Google Keen

This is probably the biggest differentiator between Pinterest and Keen. As you well know, content discovery on Pinterest is based on your searches, pins, and boards. But it also shows you content it thinks you’ll like based on your recent browser history. Even though you may not have pinned anything about copy editing tutorials on Pinterest, if you searched for them on Google or Bing, you may see a few cards pop up in your home feed.

In 2019, Pinterest introduced two ways to refine your home feed. The first is the home feed toggle, which allows you to turn on and off topics you’ve searched for in the past. The second is the pin-level controls, which allow you to see why a pin is showing up in your feed, hide or report it, or unfollow its parent topic.

Google Keen, on the other hand, refines your content automatically. It uses only the search terms you save to suggest content. When you enter a search term, Keen will suggest other related terms that will further refine the content you see.

More Keyword Suggestions on Google Keen

The more you refine your searches, and the more you save to your keens, the better the suggested content matches your interests. Rather than refine your suggested content after the fact, Keen is refining it before you even see it.

In fact, when you first begin on Keen, you may find your Explore section a little wonky, since Keen doesn’t have enough information on you to suggest targeted content yet. In fact, this is what my Explore section looks like right now in my new account.

Content Suggestions on Google Keen

So what are the differences between Keen and Pinterest for marketers?

Keen vs. Pinterest for Marketers

For now, Pinterest has a much more robust set of tools for their business pages, and they continue to build out more features. In September, they released their Story Pins in beta version, which allows creators to build images, videos, text overlays, and voiceovers into one pin. It’s a way for brands to create original content exclusively for Pinterest; and unlike other social media platforms, the stories don’t disappear after a while.

Pinterest also has plans to roll out creator profiles, according to TechCrunch, so users can learn about a creator, rather than just seeing what they’ve pinned. They’re also working on an updated analytics dashboard.

Right now, Keen doesn’t seem to have any of that. All searches seem to be organic at the moment, with no opportunity for paid posts.

However, that doesn’t mean none of this is coming in the future. While Keen is touted as simply a means to help users disconnect from endless scrolling and focus only on what truly makes them happy, it is also a way for Google to tap into Pinterest’s market.

How could you use Keen to get your product in front of users?

Using Google Keen for Marketing

While Keen isn’t really built out for businesses at the moment, that doesn’t mean marketers should totally ignore it. There are two big ways marketers can use Google Keen at the moment: to drive traffic and to increase conversions.

Driving Traffic From Google Keen

As John Becker of ContentLab points out, “if Keen takes off, it could drive traffic to your site. If people are finding and marking your content, that content could snowball and find its way to other keens and, in turn, get in front of more and more eyes.”

So, it’s worth taking a look at Keen to get eyeballs on your other content offerings.

For example, hiking and backpacking blogger Frank van Oostendorp has created three keens to drive traffic to his blog Hike for Purpose.

Hiking Content on Google Keen

Each keen includes a title, custom image, description, and curated gems that lead directly back to posts on his blog.

Google Keen For E-Commerce

Much like Pinterest, Keen users can curate links to product pages having to do with their search topics. As I mentioned before, Chantal is using Keen to curate direct links to product pages on H&M for her DIY outdoor space makeovers keen.

Ecommerce on Google Keen

If you are an influencer like Chantal, Google Keen presents the opportunity to use affiliate links or further promote products of companies with which you have a partnership.

For brands with strong customer loyalty, Google Keen is just another opportunity to reach your audience with keens targeted toward their searches on the platform.


Should you care about Google Keen? The answer to that question is kind of up in the air. Keen is a brand new platform with fewer users at the moment, which means if you’re an early adopter, you won’t be lost in a sea of influencers and paid posts.

Its use of machine learning and curated content could help you hyper-target your audience in ways that other platforms like Pinterest just don’t allow you to do.

But when Google released Keen, they didn’t exactly shout it from the rooftops, so adoption of the platform overall has been somewhat slow.

Keen is currently part of Area 120, Google’s own incubator for experimental projects. If you were ever a user of Shoelace or Rivet, you know that Google shuts down a lot of projects it incubates on Area 120.

Still, there’s no harm in having Google Keen in your back pocket. Google does decide to further develop the platform, you’ll have a head start. While other brands are just beginning to build out their keens, you’ll already have curated content, followers, and a plan to drive traffic to your other assets.

Even if it doesn’t pan out, you still have the opportunity to look at content curation differently, and perhaps apply it to your other social accounts.

Do you think Google Keen is right for your marketing strategy?

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The 5 Best Amazon Marketing Companies of 2020

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The following post was published by Neil Patel.

Amazon continues to dominate as the world’s largest e-commerce site. 

They already have an existing pool of active users and billions in revenue to plug your store into and start making sales. 

But as you’ll expect, millions of other store owners are also fighting for a piece of Amazon’s customers. 

So, with over 2.5 million sellers and more than 353 million different products to contend with, how do you rise above the noise and get your store found?

You need excellent marketing strategies unique to Amazon’s marketplace.  

And that’s where the top Amazon marketing companies come in. 

From setting up your store properly, optimizing the content of your product descriptions for target keywords to PPC, email marketing and others, you’ll need it all. What Amazon marketing companies can you trust? 

You’ll find the answer to that question and more in this guide. 

The 5 Top Amazon Marketing Companies in The World 

  1. Neil Patel Digital – Best for Store & Product Content Marketing
  2. Thrive Agency – Best for Amazon PPC
  3. Vertical Rail  – Best for Amazon Account Management
  4. Voice SEO – Best for Amazon Echo and Voice Search Optimization 
  5. Voy Media – Best for Amazon Social Media Marketing

No doubt, there are hundreds, if not thousands of Amazon marketing companies. A quick search on Google, and you’ll come back more confused than when you started your search. 

And online, you’ll find dozens of domains, listing digital marketing companies and consultants on their ranks of top Amazon marketing agencies. 

The only problem? 

Most of these ranked agencies offer the same services or only have Amazon marketing as one of their numerous services. 

Marketing that generates sales on Amazon is highly competitive. Hence, it’s best to avoid marketing generalists who do everything under the sun for a buck when marketing on Amazon. 

My recommendation?

Work with a marketing company with deep expertise in Amazon, and they’ll help you to grow your store on the Amazon platform. 

To make it easier for you, my team took the time to review and rank the top Amazon marketing companies based on what they are exceptional for, as you’ll find below. 

#1 Neil Patel Digital — Best for Store and Products’ Content Marketing 

About 23% of global shoppers said they first visit Amazon when they lack shopping inspiration. And for general online shoppers, 89% of them said they preferred Amazon to other e-commerce sites. 

Do you know what this means? 

It means that if your store and products are excellently optimized for the internet and Amazon’s search engines, they’ll find you when they make this research. 

No doubt, a lot goes into the mix of getting your store and products to rank highly on the web and Amazon. But, content is still the king of the web, and that includes on Amazon. 

With exceptional, SEO-driven content marketing, you can steer clear of the competition and help shoppers to find your store and products when they jump online to shop. 

Content can make your store and products discoverable to drive targeted traffic. It can also help to engage prospects until they hit your checkout button on Amazon. 

Neil Patel Digital’s specialty and core thinking is developing content marketing strategies that are both discoverable and engaging:

And don’t take my word for it. 

Companies around the world, including those who sell on Amazon, turn to Neil Patel Digital and love us for our expertise in using content to drive sales.

We regularly do audience and keyword research, store optimization, and product descriptions that align with search queries on Amazon.

And at Neil Patel Digital, we have a battle-tested SEO program to drive effective and engaging content marketing campaigns for Amazon sellers.

Finally, Neil Patel Digital is one of the few marketing companies with positive ratings on countless independent review sites: 

#2 Thrive Agency — Best for Amazon PPC

Only 3% of online shoppers who search for goods and services on Amazon go on to shop elsewhere. 

That is, when shoppers start on Amazon, they end up buying from a seller on Amazon. 

But when these buyers search things on Amazon, 70% of them don’t go past the first page and a whopping 64% click on the 1st three results. 

In other words, if you sell a competitive product, not only must your store be on Amazon’s top search results’ page to get found, you must also make the very top spots. 

For this, you need to invest in Amazon PPC. 

And the company that comes highly recommended is Thrive Agency

Thrive Agency has been helping Amazon sellers drive sales via PPC management since its existence in 2005 and have grown into a household name with offices in 25 locations in the US. 

This company has over 150 five-star reviews across Google, Facebook, and Clutch. 

Thrive Agency’s work and expertise in Amazon PPC is among the services that has earned them numerous awards from reputable domains, and they equally have Amazon-specific case studies.

#3 Vertical Rail — Best for Amazon Account Management

How you manage your Amazon account goes a long way in determining how much sales your store can generate on the platform in the long-term. 

And a lot go into the equation of managing an Amazon store to transform it into a thriving business.

For example, account health, shipping performance, product deactivation, intellectual property violations, and several others all have an impact on how you market your store and products on Amazon. 

Hence, to ensure 100% compliance, most sellers turn to seasoned Amazon account management services. 

And one company you can trust in this area is Vertical Rail

Vertical Rail also consults for sellers that prefer to keep the management of their Amazon accounts in-house. 

For this, they provide consulting services such as Amazon store setup, product listings, Buy Box strategy, ongoing staff training, and others to help you market your store on Amazon more effectively. 

They have numerous Amazon-specific case studies to show their for their work: 

#4 Voice SEO – Best for Amazon Echo and Voice Search Optimization 

Worldwide, the use of voice-enabled technology for shopping is growing rapidly. 

In the US, for example, over 111 million people used voice-assisted devices in 2019. 

And one of the most-used devices is the Amazon Echo. 

In short, over 65% of brands project voice ordering would play a critical role in future marketing and sales strategies. Also, two-thirds of consumers with a voice-enabled device said they consider using their voice devices to place orders. 

What do these trends show? 

If you properly optimize your Amazon store and product listings for Amazon Echo and voice search generally, you’ll boost your marketing efforts. 

And one company focused on helping Amazon sellers on this front is Voice SEO:

Voice SEO offers a full-fledged voice and Alexa search optimization services, including coverage for Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant. 

TopSEOs, a reputable ranking domain, ranks Voice SEO as the number one marketing company for voice search optimization. 

Voice SEO is a California-based marketing company with a transparent pricing model, which starts at $3,000 monthly

And this company has earned relevant awards and accreditations to show for their commitment to excellence

#5 Voy Media – Best for Amazon Social Media Marketing

With this amount of addiction to social media, it’s safe to assume that when people aren’t shopping for new items on Amazon, you could find them on one social media platform. 

If you do a great marketing job on a social platform your target audience frequents, you can engage and drive them to your Amazon store and product listings. 

Most successful Amazon sellers leverage social media to drive growth. 

And one marketing company exceptional at helping Amazon sellers take advantage of social media to drive sales is Voy Media:

Not only is Voy Media a top Facebook marketing company for e-commerce brands and Amazon sellers, but their Amazon marketing services extends to Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and others. 

Voy Media combines strategy and high-level creative deployments to help Amazon sellers drive sales via social media. 

And they have dozens of impressive case studies in their portfolio.

5 Characteristics That Make a Great Amazon Marketing Company

No Amazon marketing company becomes great overnight. Even in rare exceptions where one does, there are characteristics that show they know their onions. 

Let’s explore some of such characteristics below. 

1. They Know the Amazon Platform In-side Out

Most marketing companies will claim their generic digital marketing services apply to the Amazon ecosystem automatically. 

That’s not 100% correct. 

Marketing on Amazon has its best practices, dos and don’ts. Hence, a characteristic of exceptional Amazon marketing companies is a practical, in-side out knowledge of the platform. 

To can check for this trait, see if the company has guides or training resources, teaching how to increase sales on Amazon

2. A process for implementing their core service 

This characteristic of the best Amazon marketing agencies has two dimensions. 

First, it’s a reminder that the top agencies have a core Amazon marketing service. And that they have developed tested programs for implementing this service. 

3. A diverse team of experts 

Successful Amazon store and products’ marketing campaigns start from proper store setup, optimization and products listings to descriptions development of brand-specific creatives, and others. 

It also depends on knowing what PPC keywords to bid on and how to optimize your pricing strategy to outrank competitors with positive ROI to show. 

All the above hardly works with a one-man team. 

Hence, a characteristic you’ll find with exceptional Amazon marketing companies is a team of diverse experts

4. Impressive clients’ portfolio

Scrolling the website of any marketing company is something we do on default before we even consider talking to them. 

And I highly recommend this, as that’s an excellent way to see who they have produced results for. 

But when it comes to Amazon marketing companies, you can confirm if they belong in the top league by checking if they have an impressive clients’ portfolio:  

5. Real customer testimonials

Next to an impressive portfolio of clients, real testimonials by past and existing customers is a characteristic of exceptional Amazon marketing companies. 

You should look out for this, as it gives you a sense of what customers they’ve served think of their services.

What To Expect From a Great Amazon Marketing Company 

Top Amazon marketing companies exist first to help sellers score positive ROI on the platform. 

As I’ve shown you so far, the seller competition is sky-high on Amazon. And with more adoption of the platform by consumers and sellers alike, there’s no sign of this slowing down soon. 

With a top Amazon marketing company, you can navigate this growing competition, reach customers when it matters, and grow a profitable business on the e-commerce site.  

To partner with one, some steps you’ll likely follow are: 

1. Filling an inquiry form

Filling an inquiry form is the first step to partnering with a top Amazon marketing company. 

As I said earlier, exceptional Amazon marketing brands are there to help you drive more sales. But to help your store generate more sales on Amazon, you’ll need to share your unique challenges and needs via the inquiry or contact form on their site.

2. A discovery session

An inquiry form usually only scratches the surface on your needs or how a marketing company can help you. 

Expect an experienced Amazon marketing company to invite you to a discovery session where you’ll share more insights into your needs and challenges over a one-on-one call with an expert.  

3. Strategic recommendations

A discovery session allows an expert at a top Amazon marketing company to get a more insightful grasp of your challenges and needs. 

After this call, most will assign tasks to relevant members on their team to perform in-depth research, using what you shared with them. 

Strategic recommendations customized to your needs, as it concerns driving more sales on Amazon with marketing is usually the outcome of conducting in-depth research based on what you’ve shared with a top Amazon marketing company up to this point. 

So expect this.

4. A Proposal and contract 

Top Amazon marketing companies usually hop on a call to discuss and clarify findings from their research and strategic recommendations. 

In some cases, you’ll receive this as a document via email.

And if conversations with you and a top Amazon marketing is positive up to this point, expect to receive a proposal and contract to work together.

Conclusion: Is Partnering with a Top Amazon Marketing Company Worth it?


Amazon’s growth is steadily on the rise. 

Not only is Amazon the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace for sellers with but it is miles ahead of its closest rival, Walmart. 

Millions of sellers are flocking to Amazon for a bite of the billions the platform generates. And this scenario explains why selling on Amazon is so competitive. 

For instance, only 200,000 (about 0.08%) on Amazon manage to cross the $100,000 revenue mark. 

To give yourself a chance of succeeding on Amazon, partnering with a top Amazon marketing company is a no-brainer, as there’s more that meets the eye in driving sales on Amazon. 

And you won’t go wrong, choosing from any of the top five companies I profiled above. Or, start by going through this detailed marketing training I created for Amazon sellers.

The post The 5 Best Amazon Marketing Companies of 2020 appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How YouTube Videos Help SEO

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This article was sourced from by HurDat.

Did you know YouTube videos can improve your webblog’s visibility in search engine results, drive more organic traffic to your webblog, and support your content marketing efforts? Let’s take a closer look at the various ways a YouTube strategy can be used for search engine optimization.

Gain Visibility in Google Search with Video Content

Search engine results pages (SERPs) are changing at a rapid pace. With ever-expanding features like featured snippets, People Also Ask, FAQ snippets, photo and video results, local search results, news results, shopping results, and more, Google is making it easier for searchers to find the answers they need online. Unfortunately, this also means the traditional approach of getting your webblog to rank in search results isn’t enough anymore. You need to explore every avenue possible to capture SERP real estate and get found.

YouTube can be a powerful ally here. As you can see below, YouTube videos are being featured in Google search regularly. By incorporating YouTube videos into your marketing strategy, you’re more likely to get your content in front of searchers, particularly those who want video content.

Screenshot of Google Video Results

Screenshot of Google Video Results

Screenshot of Videos Embedded in Google Image Pages

Screenshot of Videos Embedded in Google Image Pages

Now, you might be thinking…is YouTube the only way to get this kind of impact in SERPs? The answer is yes. When it comes to search visibility, it’s basically YouTube or bust.

Do you need to host videos on YouTube to rank? Not always, but…

“In a study of 2.1M searches and 766K videos, YouTube accounted for 94% of all video carousel results on page one of Google”

Great study by @dr_pete

via @moz

— Cyrus (@CyrusShepard) October 14, 2020

Drive Traffic to Your Webblog with Embedded Videos

While snagging search engine real estate with YouTube videos is great, you don’t want all of that traffic going to YouTube’s platform, especially if your goal is to get more eyes on your webblog. By embedding your YouTube videos in your webpages and blog articles, however, you can drive that traffic to your webblog.

A webpage with an embedded video can appear in search engine results with a link, a description, and a video, which can draw more attention to the result and potentially get more clicks from searchers.

Screenshot of Mobile Featured Snippets with Video Results

Screenshot of Mobile Featured Snippets with Video Results

Screenshot of a Google Result for How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Screenshot of a Google Result for How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Screenshot of Video Pack in Google Results

Screenshot of Video Pack in Google ResultsScreenshot of Featured Snippet including a VideoScreenshot of Featured Snippet including a Video

But is it worth it? Does embedding a Youtube video actually provide enough visibility to be worth the effort for SEO? In our opinion, absolutely. For example, by adding videos to 13 high-value pages for one of our clients, we were able to help them see an immediate and significant boost in both video impressions and clicks since the additions were made.

Screenshot of GSC Video Stats

Screenshot of GSC Video Stats

Support Other Content Efforts with Video Marketing

It’s no secret that online audiences prefer video content. In fact, 72% of customers prefer to learn about a product or service through video. So if you’re already creating content on your webblog to provide helpful information or answer questions for customers, adding a video component could have a positive impact on both SEO and attracting new customers.

Certain content is perfect for video. Recipes, product demos, walk-through tours, “how to” content—all of these appear frequently in Google image and video results because people engage with this kind of content when it’s in video form. In other words, there’s a good chance that creating videos that showcase your products or that share helpful tutorials could give your existing content marketing efforts a boost.

How to Get the Most from Your YouTube Videos

So what’s next? How can you take this information and start incorporating it into your existing SEO and content marketing strategies? Here are a few steps you can take.

Create a Video Content Strategy

Start by identifying important pages on your webblog. Do some keyword research to discover what questions customers typically ask about the topics those pages cover. Once you know what people are searching for in order to find this content, you can start making videos that target those questions.

Treat Video Scripts Like Text

YouTube and Google know the importance of video and are getting much better at understanding video content. YouTube is automatically transcribing videos, which means it’s listening to the words you’re saying. Like writing a product page or a blog article, you’ll want to include the words that matter.

Take YouTube Optimization Seriously

Optimize your YouTube video like you would when implementing SEO best practices on any other webpage. Make sure that your video title and description utilize keywords your audience searches for, and include links to relevant pages on your webblog. By doing this, you increase the chances that your video will be served in both YouTube and Google search results.

Add VideoObject Schema

Schema markup helps search engines understand what’s on your webpages—that includes videos embedded on your blog. By utilizing VideoObject Schema, you can tell search engines that there’s video content on your webblog by including details like video title, description, length, and even a transcript. This can help your videos and webpages get better visibility in search engine results, especially in video results.

Interested in incorporating YouTube into your marketing strategy? With a comprehensive approach to SEO and content marketing, Hurrdat can improve your brand’s visibility in search engine results and drive more traffic to your webblog. Learn more about our Search Engine Optimization services and our Content Marketing services!

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App of the day: MeisterTask

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This post was shared by MOZ.

No crime movie is complete without an evidence board.

You know it: the corkboard that a detective, faced with some impossible deadline, agonizes over. Photographs, news clippings, and frantically scrawled notes are linked together with crisscrossing threads of string. It alone holds all the key information to crack the case.

When you’re working on a big project—or lots of them at once—it can help to have a similar planning board to drive your own tasks to completion. But don’t think old-school; think digital.

Or better yet, think MeisterTask. This online task management tool allows users to create and organize projects, collaborate with team members, and build a virtual timeline of assignments. In a nutshell, it’s an easy way to cut through the clutter and chaos of project management.

For starters, MeisterTask features a snazzy home dashboard—which you can customize to your heart’s content—and an intuitive platform for all your projects laid out Kanban-style. It’s fitting, as “kanban” is the Japanese word for “billboard,” the popular task management method to manage your workflow visually.

MeisterTask is built for agile collaboration, too. If you’re working with multiple people on one project, it’s easy to give and receive feedback in real-time. You can set clear goals by assigning deadlines, use time tracking to log everybody’s progress, make comments, and tag each other on tasks.

But where MeisterTask really stands out are the project features. You can view everybody’s projects on a timeline, filter them by priority, establish task limits, and set up certain tasks as recurring, which comes in handy if you’re performing them on a regular basis. You can also organize your projects with as many sections as you like, and attach relevant files and images, so you don’t have to spend an age hunting through Google Drive to locate that one elusive document.

The best part? Like a detective board, you can even link tasks to one another if they’re related to the same project. (Only you can toss the string.)

You can automate your team collaboration with Zapier’s MeisterTask integrations. Here are a few popular workflows to get you started:

New to Zapier? It’s a tool that helps anyone connect apps and automate workflows—without any complicated code. Sign up for free to use MeisterTask with Zapier.

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Top 10 Changes That Impacted Google My Business in 2020

Online Marketing & SEO news updates.

This post was 1st posted on this site:

2020 has been a busy year for Google My Business (GMB). Since January, Google has launched new features, fixed bugs, and had to adapt to the global pandemic.

At Sterling Sky, we think it’s important to keep track of all the changes that happen in the local search space in general, and that impact GMB specifically. So far in 2020 we are up to 54 changes.

As you can tell, changes that impact Google My Business came at a fast pace — and at high volume — in 2020. In this post, I highlight the changes I think were most important in each month of this year, so far. For an exhaustive list of all the updates that have been made, check out this timeline.

January: Google posts borked — hello, 2020!

Foreshadowing things to come, GMB started off the year with a major issue in their Google Posts feature. Google Posts were getting rejected left, right, and center.

At first, it appeared to be a bug in the system. We were further confused when Google stated that everything was “working as intended”, but the Google My Business Forum was still flooded with users complaining that their Google Posts were being rejected, and not just for a single reason:

And then Google announced that they resolved the issue. Was it truly “Working as intended”? Likely not, but the issues have, indeed, been resolved.

This hiccup made it tough for SEOs who offer Google Posts as part of their service offerings to do their work, and it would have been even more difficult for software companies that connect to Google’s API and offer multi-location Google Posts.

When one of GMB’s products fail, it’s on us as SEOs to clearly explain what’s happening to our clients. Staying on top of GMB bugs, and being able to articulate them, is a critical component of the modern local SEO tool belt.

February: Google adds “suggested categories” for GMB Products

February saw the first of many visible changes to the GMB dashboard when Google added “suggested categories” to the Products section. As of today, we still don’t know if this specific addition impacts ranking, but they still appear in the business profile on mobile, so they can impact conversions. In addition, we do know that adding actual GMB Products does not impact ranking.

March: Google launches several COVID-related features

March saw the beginning of GMB allocating a large percentage of their support resources to the healthcare verticals that were impacted most by COVID-19. To complicate things further, Google disabled the GMB Twitter and Facebook support options.

In addition to allocating resources to healthcare verticals, they began launching specific GMB features to help businesses adjust and communicate their current state of operations to their customers. Some of these initial features included:

Shutting off the ability for businesses to receive new reviews and Q&AAdding the option to report a location as “Temporarily Closed”Disabling new photos uploaded by customersAdding a COVID-19 Google Post type

These features have done a great job helping businesses through the pandemic, and give SEOs another venue to offer value by implementing them for our clients in a proactive manner.

For instance, the COVID-19 Google Post type appears higher up in the business profile, compared to regular Google Post types, which gives us the opportunity to offer businesses an effective way to give their message an increased level of visibility.

April: GMB adds telehealth appointment and COVID links

April concluded with GMB adding several new website link options to the dashboard. The two main link options that were added are the “COVID-19 info link” and the “Telehealth info link”:

Here’s how they look live on mobile:

We dug into Google Analytics for the example above. The COVID links, in addition to being a useful way to communicate new protocols, also drove traffic and conversions.

May: Google confirms April/May local ranking fluctuations were bugs

In November 2019, we described the local ranking algorithm as the “most volatile” we had seen it to date. The ranking fluctuation was so great that we named the algorithm update that was happening “Bedlam”.

When we started to see strikingly similar volatility in the local search results in April 2020, we jumped to the conclusion that this was another local algorithm update. However, Danny Sullivan confirmed that it was a bug this time around:

<blockquote><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Just wanted to update. Thanks for the examples. They helped us find a bug that we got resolved about about two weeks ago, and that seems to have stabilized things since.</p>— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) <a href=”… 28, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Several of our clients who saw major ranking fluctuation told us that the real-world impact on their business was palpable. When their rankings dropped, they immediately felt it from a revenue perspective, and when their rankings moved back up, revenue went back up as well. I can only guess that the amount of revenue lost and gained due to this bug, across all businesses, was astronomical.

June: GMB adds “more hours” option

In June, GMB included a new set of hours that a business can add to their locations to indicate when they are open for special circumstances. Some of the “more hours” options appeared to be a response to the pandemic, such as “senior hours”. I suspect that this feature will be available long after the pandemic is over.

SEOs can add value for their clients by proactively setting this up. Some bigger chains such as Wal-Mart are already doing a great job utilizing this feature. Here are some examples I’ve found in the wild recently:

July: Google adds ability to flag user profiles

This is one of my favorite new features from Google this year. They now provide the option for any user to flag a user profile. This new feature is ideal when you want to report a reviewer’s profile that is engaging in clearly fake reviews.

Before this option became available, the only way to report an entire user’s profile was to send an email to Local Guides support.

The important thing to remember is that this feature is only available from the Google Maps App. Here’s how it works:

Open the Google Maps app.Find a contribution from the profile that you’d like to flag.Tap on the user name of the profile.Tap the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner.Choose “Report profile”.

August: GMB adds performance metrics to direct edit experience

The GMB direct edit experience has been around for a while now. (Ben Fisher did a great job covering it recently.) It’s a useful way for GMB page managers and owners to make edits to the listing directly on Google search, and not have to go into the GMB dashboard.

What GMB added to this feature in August was the ability to see performance metrics (GMB Insights) directly in Google search as well. What I like about this feature is that you can go back and get data from a six-month window, and as of today, you can only go back three months inside the GMB dashboard.

Here’s how you find the performance metrics. Please note that this feature is not available to all businesses yet. Google typically rolls out new features in phases. As Google gathers data on this rollout, and if it is being adopted well, I imagine we will see this rolled-out to 100% by early 2021.

Perform a branded search for the business that you manage and select the “View profile” button.

Next, you need to select “Add a highlight”. This used to be labeled as “Promote”:

After that, select “Performance”:

And finally, after selecting the performance option you will be able to view your insights data.

September: COVID-related health and safety attributes launch

The pandemic influenced several new GMB features such as the “temporarily closed” option and COVID-19 Google Post type, which we have already covered. I think the most significant feature related to COVID-19, however, was the launch of the coronavirus-related health and safety attributes, which were launched in September.

Google seems to be adding more attributes to the list as time goes on, but here is what they have added as of today. You can select these under the “Info” tab inside the Google My Business dashboard.

These attributes are powerful because they are highly visible in multiple places. You can see them on both mobile and desktop, and in both Google Maps and Google search.

Here’s what they look like in the wild:

October: New “preview call history” module in GMB dashboard

As of the beginning of October, I started seeing a module inside the GMB dashboard called “Preview call history BETA”. It’s not entirely clear what the final feature will look like, but experts have been weighing in over at the Local Search Forum.

Here’s what we know so far based on feedback from Google as well as members’ feedback from the Local Search Forum.

It’s currently US only and opt-in.No transcription or call recording.Call logs remain for 45 days.There is a whisper message telling the owner that the call originated from Google.The number displayed to the caller will be the forwarding number.This may interfere with off-site call tracking via GMB, so use cautiously if you’re using a call tracking strategy.

So what? November, December, and 2021

Like Bowie said, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”. When it comes to Google My Business, you can expect the changes to keep coming as we complete 2020 and move on to 2021.

As for my future predictions, where Google My Business is concerned, I see guidelines opening up to include additional business models as a result of the pandemic, and due to the shift that businesses have had to make from an in-person, brick-and-mortar operation to online service.

Telehealth is a prime example. Google has been adding several GMB attributes that a business can select to indicate that they offer online services. Currently, the guidelines say you need to make in-person contact with customers to qualify for a listing. At the very least, Google has opened this rule up temporarily during the pandemic to accommodate this new health model. So the question is whether or not this will continue into the future once the pandemic is over. I think they will.

And with that, remember to turn and face the strange, and embrace Google My Business in all of its constantly changing glory.

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How Core Web Vitals Affect Google’s Algorithms

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The following article was provided by Neil Patel.

core web vitals

While we spend a lot of time focusing on keyword optimization, mobile-experience, and backlinks, Google pays a lot of attention to the on-page experience. That’s why they’ve rolled out a new set of signals called Core Web Vitals.

These signals will take into account a website’s page loading speed, responsiveness, and visual stability.

In this guide, I’ll explain what Core Web Vitals are and help you figure out how it could impact your rankings.

Core Web Vitals: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

Is this simply another scare tactic by Google to make us revamp everything and get all nervous for a few months?

I don’t think it is; I think this will become a serious ranking factor in the coming years — and for a good reason.

The good news is you may not even have to do anything differently because you’re already providing a high-quality on-page experience for your visitors.

This is essentially what Core Web Vitals are. It’s a page experience metric from Google to determine what type of experience visitors get when they land on your page.

For example, Google will determine if your page is loading fast enough to prevent people from bouncing. If it’s not, you could face a penalty in ranking and be replaced by a website that’s loading correctly.

So, now we have the following factors determining the quality of a “page experience” on Google:

  • Mobile-friendly: The page is optimized for mobile browsing.
  • Safe-browsing: The page doesn’t contain any misleading content or malicious software.
  • HTTPS: You’re serving the page in HTTPS.
  • No intrusives: The page doesn’t contain any issues that cover the primary content.
  • Core Web Vitals: The page loads quickly and focuses on elements of interactivity and visual stability.

Many websites are providing these factors already, and if you’re one of them, you have nothing to worry about.

Google’s Announcement about Core Web Vitals becoming a Ranking Factor

Twitter announcement of core web vitals

I took a look at Google’s press release to see if there was anything that stood out. Google announced that over time, they’d added factors such as page loading speed and mobile-friendliness, but they want to drive home the importance of on-page experience.

They’re looking at upcoming search ranking changes that factor in-page experience. Google says they’ll incorporate these page experience metrics for the “Top Stories” feature on mobile and remove the AMP requirement.

Google also says they’ll provide a full six months notice before rolling this out, so it does look like we have some time to think about it and get ourselves on track.

Core Web Vitals Metrics

As a website owner, developer, or builder, you consider a million different factors when putting together your website.

If you’re currently working on new sites or making updates to existing ones, you’ll want to keep these three factors in mind going forward.

Loading: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Largest Contentful Paint or LCP refers to your page loading performance. It covers the perceived loading speed, which means:

How long does it take for your website to start displaying elements that are important to the user?

Do you see how this differs from regular page loading speed now?

There’s a huge difference here.

For example, it’s common practice to keep the most important information and eye-catching content above the fold, right?

Well, that’s no use to anyone if it takes all the interesting “above the fold” six seconds to load.

We see this all the time when sites have images or videos above the fold. They generally take up a lot of space and contain important pieces of context for the rest of the content, but they’re the last to load, so it leaves a large white space at the top of the screen.

Google is paying attention to this because they realize it’s causing a lot of people to bounce.

The general benchmark for Google is 2.5 seconds. This means that your website should display everything in the first frame (above the fold) in 2.5 seconds.

Keep in mind that webpages are displayed in stages. So when the final elements of the top of your page loads, that would be your LCP. A slow LCP = lower rankings and penalties and a fast LCP = higher rankings; it’s as simple as that.

Interactivity: First Input Delay (FID)

The First Input Delay or FID is the responsiveness of your webpage. This metric measures the time between a user’s first interaction with the page and when the browser can respond to that interaction.

This web vital might sound a little complex, so let’s break it down.

Let’s say you’re filling out a form on a website to request more information about a product. You fill out the form and click submit. How long does it take for the website to begin processing that request?

That’s your First Input Delay. It’s the delay in between a user taking action and the website actually moving on that action.

It’s essentially a measure of frustration for the user. How many times have angrily hit a submit button over and over because it’s taking forever?

This is a huge UX metric because it can also be the difference between capturing a lead or a sale.

Chances are, someone is taking action because they’re interested in whatever it is you’re offering. The last thing you want to do is lose them at the finish line.

Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Cumulative Layout Shift refers to the frequency of unexpected layout changes and a web page’s overall visual stability. 

This one is straightforward, and I have a perfect example.

Have you ever scrolled through a website, saw something interesting, went to click on it, but right at the last second, a button loads, and you end up clicking that instead?

Now you have to go back and find what you were looking for again and (hopefully) click the right link.

Or, where you’re reading a paragraph, and buttons, ads, and videos keep loading as you’re reading, which keeps bumping the paragraph down the page, so you have to keep scrolling to read it.

These are signs of a poor on-page experience, and Google is factoring these issues as they strive to provide the best experience for users.

Going forward, the focus is on mimicking an “in-person” experience online. As more and more stores shut down and e-commerce continues to boom, it’s up to store/site owners to provide that in-store experience to their users.

For CLS, the goal is to have a score as close to zero as possible. The less intrusive and frustrating page changes, the better.

The Effects of Core Web Vitals on Content Strategy and Web Development

Now let’s talk about how to improve core web vitals and where you can get this information.

Head to your Google Search Console, where you’ll see the speed test was replaced with “Core Web Vitals.”

core web vitals on search console

When you click it, it’ll bring up a report for mobile and one for desktop.

You’ll see a list of poor URLs, URLs that need improvement, and good URLs.

Remember that Google is factoring in the three things we discussed previously to determine the URL’s quality.

core web vitals on mobile

So, if you have many poor URLs, it means that they’re slow to display the most critical content, slow to process actions, and continually offer a poor experience by shifting layout too frequently.

core web vitals need improvement

If the URL “needs improvement,” it may have a slight combination of two or three of these. A good URL checks out clean.

If you open the report on mobile, for example, you’ll see a page that might look like this.

core web vitals LCP issues

It’s an example of a website that needs improvement, and the issue here is LCP or page loading performance.

The goal is 2.5 seconds on mobile, and this URL has an average LCP of 2.9 seconds, so this shows clear room for improvement.

If we hop over to the desktop report, here are some examples of poor URLs.

This one has a CLS issue, which means that the website is loading in a way that changes the site’s physical structure too often.

The goal for this is 0.25, and this webpage has a CLS of 0.55. It also says that 472 URLs are affected by this same issue, so this website owner has a lot of work ahead of them to get this fixed.

Core Web Vitals CLS Issues

I’m a big fan of these reports’ transparency because Google makes it easy to locate the problem and fix it.

You can even click the “validate” button when you think you’ve fixed the problem, and Google will verify your progress and update the report.

How to Track Your Website’s Core Web Vitals

Tracking your Core Vitals is as simple as going into the search console and looking at each web property on a case-to-case basis. You’ll want to go in and play around with this to see where you stand.

How to Improve Core Web Vitals

Once you’ve pulled your report, it’s time to make some changes.

You’ll be able to improve the LCP by limiting the amount of content you display at the top of the web page to the most critical information. If it’s not critically important to a problem that the visitor is trying to solve, move it down the page.

Improving FID is simple, and there are four primary issues you’ll want to address:

  1. Reduce third-party code impact: If you have a bunch of different processes happening simultaneously, it will take longer for the action to start working.
  2. Reduce JavaScript execution time: Only send the code your users need and remove anything unnecessary.
  3. Minimize main thread work: The main thread does most of the work, so you need to cut the complexity of your style and layouts if you have this issue.
  4. Keep request counts low, and transfer sizes small: Make sure you’re not trying to transfer huge files.

Improving CLS requires paying attention to size attributes and video elements on all media. When you allow the correct amount of space for a piece of content before it loads, you shouldn’t experience any page shifts during the process.

It also helps to limit transform animations because many of them will trigger layout changes, whether you want them to or not.


Core Web Vitals and SEO go hand-in-hand, and we all know that we can’t ignore any single ranking factor if we want to beat out our competition and keep our rankings.

Do we know exactly how much of an impact core web vitals have on our ranks? No, we don’t. But Google is paying a lot more attention to the on-page experience.

Is your website following best practices for Core Web Vitals? Let us know!

The post How Core Web Vitals Affect Google’s Algorithms appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Hurrdat Answers: What’s Your Best Halloween Costume?

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This post was shared by HurDat.

Halloween might look a little different this year, but that doesn’t stop members of the Hurrdat team from enjoying this fall holiday. Since we’re working remotely and won’t be able to show off of our Halloween costumes in the office, we asked some of the Hurrdat team to share photos of their favorite Halloween costumes over the years, as well as the stories behind those costumes. Check out their favorites below!

Carlee Dlouhy, Account Manager

Little Girl Wearing a Pioneer Style Costume

Little Girl Wearing a Pioneer Style Costume

I would have to say my best Halloween costume was from 2000 when I was just four years old. I don’t know that this was my favorite costume at the time, but looking back at it now, this is by far one of my favorites!

That year, I dressed up as a little pioneer girl in a green floral dress and matching bonnet. I sported this costume pretty well…until we get down to the ole Nike tennis shoes. (You have to have functional footwear when it comes to trick-or-treating, right?) Like I said, I didn’t know there was anything special about wearing this costume then because I was so young, but now as an adult, I realize how much I loved this costume.

I think it was so special to me because of the backstory of where this little dress came from. When my mom was a little girl, she wore this exact dress and matching bonnet. My grandma spent hours making one for her and one for her sister. All the little girls had one and wore them to their town’s centennial celebration. This seemed to make the perfect Halloween costume when I finally grew into it.

I can still remember the look of excitement and happiness when I walked up to my grandparents’ door and said “Trick or Treat!” My grandma was so proud that I was wearing the little dress and bonnet that she had made for my mom all those years ago!

Kelsey Harder, Business Operations Specialist

Baby Dressed Up as a Pumpkin

Baby Dressed Up as a Pumpkin

My pumpkin costume has earned the title of my favorite Halloween costume. Although I don’t remember wearing the costume—actually, I don’t remember that Halloween experience whatsoever—I have enjoyed looking back at pictures of younger me in this costume over the years.

As you can see, I wore this costume in my youth when I was around the age of one-and-a-half, and I was a young, chunky child. Because of this costume, I’ve been given the wonderful nickname of “Chunky Pumpkin,” thanks to my friends and family who remember this costume—and I can honestly say I’m not ashamed of it!

Now that I have the blessing of being pregnant and getting the opportunity of dressing up my own child for Halloween someday, I can confidently say that my child will have the joy of also dressing up as a “chunky pumpkin” at some point.

Brittany Sampy, Digital Marketing Strategist

Woman Dressed as Karen from The Office

Woman Dressed as Karen from The Office

Coming from a small town, I have your typical tale of Halloween costumes known to a kid not into goblins or gore. I dressed as princesses, a sheep, and there was one time in middle school when my best friend and I dressed up as Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World, only to have our hats taken away due to school policy.

The one costume I loved that I returned to more than once came about during my high school speech (forensics) career. Each weekend, I’d be called “Karen from The Office” going into my rounds, and it became a joke between my school and one of our main competitors. I wasn’t all that into The Office, and this made me unsure of the moniker, but it eventually became fun and part of my persona walking into present.

It didn’t take much to run with Karen for two Halloweens since it didn’t require much more than an outfit I already had, a facial expression, and a witty quote from the show to make it work, making it one of my most fun and memorable costumes ever. That feeling of being something or someone else still embodies the Halloween spirit to me!

Araya Santo, Content Editor

Woman in a Witch Costume Holding a Black Cat

Woman in a Witch Costume Holding a Black Cat

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I’ve dressed as a grandma, Eileen from Come On, Eileen!, a black cat, a witch, and an ’80s workout instructor, among others. Last year, I went back to an old favorite: a witch.

Some backstory: I had been trying to adopt a cat, and I was scheduled to meet and subsequently adopt her on a Thursday or Friday. Of course, I was excited. I wanted to name her Binx, Bastet, or Nyx—something super cool and along the Halloween theme. Everything was set up, I had changed shifts at my second job from the weekend to the week so that I could have the entire weekend to spend with her. But something went wrong. They called me at 4pm on a workday and said if I didn’t pick her up that day, she’d go back up for adoption. So on Wednesday, October 3, 2019, I adopted Wednesday, who I named after the Addams’ Family’s hilarious, macabre daughter.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and I dressed up as a witch for the Best Holiday Ever™. My costume was five layers, and I brought a couple of props with me to the office. For the first time in my whole life, I was voted the winner of the best Halloween costume. OMG! To this day, it’s one of the highest honors awarded to me, haha!

But it wasn’t complete until I got home. And just like some of my favorite childhood books and stories of superstition and fantasy, my little black cat was waiting for me. It was a sweet feeling, and I think about it often. This year, Wednesday will be a lobster, and I’ll be a mask-wearing mermaid as we hand out candy!

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Efficient automation: How to get the most out of your Zaps

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When I first started using Zapier, it was like a firework going off in my brain. I sought out things to automate: Time-tracking at work, invoicing, reminders to send grandma a birthday card, all of it. In my first few weeks using Zapier, I had automated workflows – which we call Zaps – with 10, 20, 30 steps in them, all trying to explore the new possibilities.

And it was great for about two minutes, until my account reached its task usage limit, and I had to face reality: My Zaps, while awesome, weren’t as efficient as they could be.

In most cases, my Zaps could have achieved the same outcome but used fewer tasks. One or two changes would’ve saved me money and peace of mind.

After reviewing my own Zaps, as well as troubleshooting thousands of Zaps with Zapier’s award-winning Support team, I’ve found two ways to help your Zaps use fewer tasks, allowing you to build more Zaps and save more time in the long run.

You’ll need a Zapier account to implement the solutions we recommend in this post. If you don’t have an account yet, it’s free to get started.

What is a “task” and why does it matter?

Each plan supports a certain number of “tasks” each month. Any time a Zap successfully performs an action counts as a task, because that action is making at least one “request” to another application. That request uses a small amount of a server’s processing power, which costs money.

Learn more about tasks and Task History.

By making sure your Zaps only use tasks when they absolutely need to, you can be free to use more tasks in another Zap, automating more work without hitting a limit.

How to spot inefficient Zaps

Typically, inefficient Zaps do one of the following:

  1. They trigger a lot, more than you expect or even want. For example, if your Zap triggers on any new email, but you really only need emails from certain people.
  2. They have several actions in a row that all use the same application, or provide the same information multiple times. One example would be a Zap that creates a row in a spreadsheet, then uses an additional action to get that row’s information.

The best place to spot either of these situations is your Task History. There, you can get a birds-eye view of how many times each Zap runs, and what happens every time it does.

The Task History page

How to explore Task History

Using the options at the top of the page, you can narrow down which tasks you’d like to review. Selecting a Date Range will update the page to show tasks used within a certain time period. The App field lets you select a specific app, so that you can see which tasks are interact with it (for example, if you want to see all of the tasks related to Spotify).

You can even mix and match to see very specific tasks.

Highlighting the Date Range and App fields in the Task History page

How to fix a Zap that’s running too often

Zaps that trigger too often typically either completely overrun the first page of the Task History, or have multiple tasks that run close to the same time.

This Zap has several tasks that ran at the exact same time, implying that it may be triggering more often than I need it to

While we want to make sure that the Zap triggers any time it should, often we see the information that triggered the Zap doesn’t always need to be sent to the other actions. For example, sometimes it’s duplicate information, or information you don’t actually need. For example, if you’re using a trigger that gathers every email you receive, but you really only need the emails that have attachments.

If you notice one Zap runs much more often than you expect, it’s important to take a closer look at its trigger. Typically, Zaps that trigger a lot are using an “Update” trigger, so they prompt the Zap to run any time a change is made to something in the app.

To help make sure that tasks are only used when necessary in these cases, you can add a Filter to the Zap.

An example of a Filter step in a Zap, with no conditions set yet

Filters allow you to set criteria that the Zap has to meet before continuing. For example, to make sure that your Zap only creates new contacts for people who provide their email address, you can update the Filter to check if the email “exists” before continuing.

You can also use the “AND” and “OR” buttons to set multiple criteria. For example, if the contact’s email exists, and they’re tagged with the “Zapier” tag.

Filter conditions that will pass if the Email exists, and if the Tags contain the word Zapier

Adding Filters to your Zaps is also a great way to prevent “Zap Loops”, another cause of Zaps using too many tasks.

Note that if a Filter’s conditions are met, the Filter itself does count as a task. But, if its conditions aren’t met, it stops the Zap from proceeding. This means that the Zap can continue to trigger frequently, but the overall number of tasks used can decrease significantly.

How to reduce Zap redundancy

Making Zaps with multiple steps feels like pouring rocket fuel on your computer, but keeping track of where information coming from and going to and sometimes requires slowing down and reviewing all of the options.

When making more complex Zaps, I often found myself adding more actions than I needed, trying to ensure that I had access to all of the data I wanted. For example, adding a “Search” action to get information from a spreadsheet row, even though I had just created that row with a “Create” action in the previous step.

Example of a Zap with a Google Sheets Create Spreadsheet Row action followed by a Lookup Spreadsheet Row action

When a Zap sends information to another app, usually that app sends information back, and sometimes you can use that information to reduce the number of “Search” steps in your Zap.

There are two ways to see what an app sends back to the Zap:

If the Zap has already been set up and runs smoothly, open the Task History and check out the “Data Out” tab in each action.

Example of the Data Out tab for a Create Spreadsheet Row action, showing the data returned from Google Sheets

“Data Out” is all of the information that the Zap receives back from an app. For example, when an action sends a new row to Google Sheets, that app sends back information about that row, whether it was added successfully, and what it looks like now. Even though an action may sound like it’s only sending information one way, most actions receive just as much as (if not more than) they give.

If you’re still working on the Zap in the Zap Editor, head to the “Send Data” section of an action, where you can test it. Note that whenever you test an action Zapier will send the information to the action app, so make sure you review your sample data before you test it.

Example of the Send Data section of a Create Spreadsheet Row action, showing the data that the test will send to Google Sheets after you select Test & Review

Click Test & Review to send the sample data you’ve added to the action, and the screen will update to show the app’s response. That helps you see exactly what information the action provides, so that you can determine whether or not an extra “Search” action is necessary.

Is your test not working as expected? You may need to test the Zap’s trigger again.

What if none of those things apply to me?

That’s great! That may mean that your Zap is already as efficient as possible. If you have a sneaking suspicion that a few tasks can be saved still, here are a few other tips:

I hope that you found the above useful or interesting. You can found similar content on our blog:

Please let me have your feedback below in the comments section.

Let us know what topics we should cover for you in future.