Google Search Analytics Adds Compare Queries Option

by  and first published on Search Engine Roundtable.

The Google Search Analytics feature in the Google Search Console has added a new feature that let’s you compare two different queries. You can access this by going to the Google Search Console, clicking on Search Analytics and then clicking on the Queries option and selecting “compare queries.”

This was first spotted by Jonathan Jones and posted on Twitter.

This let’s you basically compare two search phrases against each other.

Here is where you find the option:

Then this box pops up:

Then you enter the two phrases you want to compare:

Here is then the output that shows you those two queries:

click for full size

 

Google penalizes sites for unnatural outbound linking

By Barry Schwartz and first published on Search Engine Land.

google-link-warnings-seo

Check your Google Search Console message center. Google sent out outbound link penalties over the weekend.

Over the weekend (April 9-10, 2016), Google issued many manual actions for “unnatural outbound links.” This is a penalty issued by the Google manual actions team, specifically over sites linking out to other sites in an effort to manipulate the Google search results. In this case, it seems Google penalized the site by deciding not to trust any of the links on the website.

The email sent to these webmasters read:

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.

Here is a picture from one of the many complaints about this manual action in the Google support forums:

google-unnatural-links-outbound-1460374556

 

You should log into your Google Search Console account and check your all messages box to see if you have this notification or any others. If you were hit by the outbound link penalties, there are instructions on how to fix them over here.

I have only seen a few inbound link notification penalties this weekend. So it is too early to tell if sites on the other end of this penalty got it. If anything, it seems Google is no longer trusting the links from these sites, which can have a negative ranking impact on the sites receiving these links. But that would not be a direct penalty for inbound links.

Google has not commented about this penalty.

UPDATE 4-12-16: Source: Search Engine Land

The mass Google manual actions for outbound links was related to the warning Google gave a few weeks ago around bloggers giving links in exchange for free products or services.

Yesterday, Search Engine Land reported that Google sent out outbound linking penalties to a mass number of webmasters over the weekend. It turned out that this was directly related to the warning from Google a few weeks ago for bloggers to disclose free product reviews as such and nofollow links in their blog posts over these product reviews.

Google told bloggers to “nofollow the link, if you decide to link to the company’s site, the company’s social media accounts, an online merchant’s page that sells the product, a review service’s page featuring reviews of the product or the company’s mobile app in an app store.”

Well, now that the warning was communicated, a few weeks later, in typical Google style, Google actually sent out manual actions for those who did not comply with those guidelines.

John Mueller from Google commented in a few threads in the Google support forums telling people to look at the warning Google published a few weeks ago named Best practices for bloggers reviewing free products they receive from companies. He added:

In particular, if a post was made because of a free product (or free service, or just paid, etc.), then any links placed there because of that need to have a rel=nofollow attached to them. This includes links to the product itself, any sales pages (such as on Amazon), affiliate links, social media profiles, etc. that are associated with that post. Additionally, I imagine your readers would also appreciate it if those posts were labeled appropriately. It’s fine to keep these kinds of posts up, sometimes there’s a lot of useful information in them! However, the links in those posts specifically need to be modified so that they don’t pass PageRank (by using the rel=nofollow).

Once these links are cleaned up appropriately, feel free to submit a reconsideration request, so that the webspam team can double-check and remove the manual action.

Google says “orchestration” is next big trend in the Internet of Things

By Jennifer Elias, Technology Reporter, Silicon Valley Business Journal – First published in the San Antonia Business Journal.

The Internet of Things has officially advanced past the “hype” stage, according to conference panelists including a Google developer.

At the Bluetooth World conference in Santa Clara, California, Wayne Piekarski, a senior developer advocate for Google, said he believes the next big push in the Internet of Things is “orchestration,” meaning multiple connected devices aware of each other working together.
Google says orchestration the next big trend in Internet of Things.

Photo Credit: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

“When you walk in your home, the lights come on and coffee machine goes on,” Piekarski said. “People don’t want to control a single light bulb, they’re going to work with multiple devices, which means working with multiple manufacturers.”

Currently, users of connected devices have to buy one product and download its app. But Piekarski said the Mountain View company wants to decouple that “so that some app developer can write the app but the device doesn’t have to be made by the same company.”

According to Piekarski, that’s why the company is working with smart home platforms such as Brillo and Weave.

Google product strategy manager Scott Jenson spoke in a separate panel about Google’s efforts toward “The Physical Web” which is an open-source effort to enable all connected devices to work in unison without the need for separate apps. Jenson said it is one of the company’s most popular projects on open-source collaboration platform Github.
As demand increases for connected devices, consumers will want to add more features such as voice commands, he added. “There’s all these integrations you can do once people get a feel for the Internet of Things.”

Sales of connected devices are climbing but Piekarski said consumers should be wary about some of the products on the market. “There are IoT devices gradually being put out there but they’re not done well,” he said, adding “I think what we’re going to see is a security conflict.”

Piekarski said he expects a security breach before IoT manufacturers start taking security seriously. “Currently, they’re [manufacturers] sending packets over the network un-encrypted and we haven’t had anything bad happen yet but something’s going to happen where someone’s house catches on fire,” he warned.
“People need to trust them and if you’re going to put it [connected device] on a door, it has to work every time and it has to let you into the house every time–it can’t lock you out. The challenge is going to be doing it really well and that’s what we’re trying to do right now–to make it so that people can trust these things.”

Adnan Nishat, another panelist and senior product manager at Silicon Labs, agreed with Piekarski, saying when a high-profile security attack happens, it doesn’t just affect one brand “but it weakens consumer trust which impacts everyone … We need to take a systematic approach to implementing security, not just about turning a feature on and off, but planning holistically end-to-end.”

A Design Workflow Tutorial for Developers: Deliver Better UI/UX On Time

BY LUBOS VOLKOV – LEAD PRODUCT DESIGNER @ TOPTAL

Working with a great designer or design team can be an invaluable asset to any team. With clear communication channels, and free-flowing co-operation, the designer should give you everything you need to speed up the building process and limit questions and confusion as much as possible.

What can you, the UX developer, do to ensure that the product you have built is delivered in a timely manner without sacrificing the quality of the user interface and user experience?

Call up your designer; it’s time to streamline UI design workflow.

My answer: Get your designers involved from day one, and keep them involved throughout the entire UI/UX development process. Make sure to establish clear communication lines and consistent messaging between developers and the designers.

Do You Have Everything You Need?

The worst thing that can happen during the implementation o any UI is lack of communication between the designer and the developer(unless they’re the same person). Some designers think their job is done once the PSD is sent over. But, that’s just wrong! You must create an always-on communication workflow that lasts beyond the delivery of the PSDs.

Projects where the designer just submits the design files, and the developer just implements them, are the projects that just fail.

In many cases, it will take time before the designers see the actual UI/UX design implementation and, to their surprise, the build is completely different from the initial submission. (This happened to me more than once. I have sent over source files with complete descriptions and interaction prototypes, but when I finally saw the project, months later, it had different layout, different colors, and no interactions in place.)

Some designers might hate me for this, as this design workflow requires a lot of “extra” work on their side. However, creating and delivering full assets and information, in an organized way, is better for the project and the team as a whole.

Having everything a developer needs, in front of him, will speed up the process. A clean PSD is just not enough.

What do you need to get the job done effectively and efficiently?

These are the assets that a developer should expect from the designer to bring a UI/UX design to implementation:

  • Resource file – Designer should place every element of the app in one file. This file should contain buttons, checkboxes, header styles, fonts, colors, etc. Basically, based on the information in this file, developer should be able to recreate any interface from scratch. It’s much easier for a developer to export any element from a single PSD, than to search multiple files for it.
  • Assets – Make sure that developers get all the required assets, as source files should not be touched any more.
  • Interaction prototypes – Days of “static screens” are long gone. Using smart interactions and animations, to smooth-out UX design workflow and implementation, is a common practice now. But, you can’t just say “this will slide in from the left ” to a developer. Designer should create actual prototype of that interaction. Prototype should include information like speed, velocity, etc., and the designer is expected to specify each of these values.
  • Naming convention – Request a file naming structure to keep things organized. It’ll make it easier for both of you to navigate files. (No one likes to have things hidden in a background folder).
  • HDPI Resources – We live in the “hard times”, with the huge density of the screens. Make sure that designer will deliver images in all of the required resolutions, so your application will look crispy everywhere. Note: use as much vectors as possible, it’s going to help you a lot (svg).

If you do find something else missing during the implementation, don’t be afraid, ping the designer and ask for it. Never skip, and never skimp! You are members of the same team, and your job is to deliver the best possible product. If a designer fails, you fail as well.

Work In-Progress

Utilize your designers during the UI/UX development process. Don’t keep them in the sidelines expecting them to just “push the pixels”. A designer sees possible innovations even before the implementation starts. To take the advantage of this, keep them in the loop. Provide them with access to see, and test, the work in progress. I’m well aware that no one likes to share unfinished projects. But, it is much easier to make changes in the middle of a build than at the end. Doing so may save you time and prevent unnecessary work. Once you give the designer a chance to test the project, ask him to compile a list of problems and solutions, and suggest improvements.

What to do when a developer has an idea that would change the look of an application? Discuss it with thedesigner, and never allow a developer to modify the design, without consulting the designer. This design workflow will assure that the build stays on track. A great designer has a reason for every element on the screen. Taking a single piece out, without understanding why it’s there, could ruin the user experience of the product.

UI/UX Design Project Management

Designers think that developers can bring a design to life in one day, or even in one hour. But, like great design, great development takes time and effort. Keep your anxious designer at bay by letting him see the progress of the build. Using external project management software, to make sure every revision is accounted for, is a great way to make sure you don’t miss important information discussed in an email conversation or a Skype session. And let’s be honest: sometimes changes and activities aren’t even communicated until they happen.

Whatever solution you use, be sure to choose one workflow process that the whole team will adopt and consistently use. On our team, I tried to push Basecamp because that’s what I was using, but our front-end developers thought it had limited features. They were already using other project management software to track bugs, progress, etc., such as JIRA, GitHub, and even Evernote. I understood that project tracking and management should be kept as simple as possible, so I migrated my UI design workflow to JIRA. I wanted make sure they understood my workflow and progress, but I did not want them to feel like design was another thing to manage.

Here are few suggestions for a project management tool:

  • Basecamp – Tracks the progress of the design and development related tasks, and easily lets you export tasks. It also has a simple mobile client.
  • JIRA – A fully customizable platform where you can easily set up custom boards for different areas. For example, organize boards to track activities such as back-end, front-end, design, etc. I think the mobile client is a bit weak, but it is a great solution for bigger teams and includes a bug tracking feature.
  • Email – This is great for setting up a conversation or sending images. But please be carefull if you use email for feedback. Things can easily get lost.

You can also try Trello and other project management software, but the most widely used in our industry are Basecamp and JIRA. Again, the most important thing is to find a project management system that everyone can use on a consistent basis, otherwise it’s a moot point.

Lubos Volkov is an experienced designer who has worked remotely with numerous developers throughout his career. As the product designer at Toptal, Lubos interacts daily with team members from a variety of departments including engineering, community, and content. He is a talented designer whose communication skills contribute to his success. In this tutorial, Lubos shares his experiences and ways to optimize designer-developer UI and UX workflows that lead to quality products delivered on, or before, deadline.

5 Link Building Lies You’ll Hear in 2016

By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO and first published on WebsiteMagazine.com

As 2015 draws to a close I can all but hear content marketers dreaming up the click bait headlines that will run amuck in 2016.

Rolling over to a new year is a trigger point for “this or that is dead” articles; you would think that Google only makes update at the end of the year the way articles start popping up. That being said, here are five link building tactics that will still work in 2016 unless Google does decide to actually make a yearend change, in which case, we will cover it here, so sign up for Website Magazine’s Mastering Search emails if you haven’t already.

1. GUEST POSTING IS FINALLY DEAD

Low-quality guest posting for the sake of building keyword rich anchor texts has been a bad idea for a few years now, if you are still doing this, it is time to get up to speed. If you are reaching out to high-quality sites that market to your audience, guest posting is never going to die. Even if it didn’t boost your rankings, it would still send qualified referral traffic, an instant win. So next time you read about the imminent death of guest posts in a headline, save your time and read something useful like how to build high quality links without writing a ton of content or tips on how to create great content.

2. WEB 2.0 LINK BUILDING NO LONGER WORKS

In the past many link builders would start link building campaigns off by creating blogs on sites like WordPress, Blogger and Rebel Mouse. In the past, a single article, often times spun, would be added to the blog and linked to the money site. These blogs would then have high volumes of low-quality links built to them in order to boost the Page Authority hosting the link. This method is no longer a good idea, as a matter of fact it should have ended in 2013 at latest.

That being said, you can still derive value from building out Web 2.0 sites. They can be a good source of traffic, can help you control your online brand reputation, and they can still be part of a good link building strategy. In order for them to have value though, you need to spend the time to create blogs that actually offer value to the reader. Every site should be set up as a standalone blog that people would want to read. Quality content, regular updates and ongoing link building to these blogs are a must if you go this route in 2016. Here is a great example of Tumblr, a Web 2.0 site being used by a brand properly.

If you don’t have the time or resources to manage Web 2.0s properly, focus on outreach link building instead.

3. PBNS ARE ALL YOU NEED

Done correctly, private blog network (PBN) link building can be pretty low risk and incredibly powerful. These types of links are like dynamite though. If you aren’t experienced, using them is dangerous. Failing to use them in just the right quantity can be disastrous and they are not always the best solution. If you are not familiar with building PBNs, don’t risk it, there are too many things that can go wrong. If you are using them, don’t make the mistake of using only these types of links. Link diversity is very important and you should be diversifying your efforts by getting links that drive traffic as well. Don’t try to cut corners and use just one type of links in 2016 or you are going to get burned. If you aren’t sure how to diversify, check out our recent post on creating your first 44 backlinks.

4. SEO SOFTWARE IS “ONLY FOR SPAMMERS” OR IS A “PUSH BUTTON LINK BUILDING SOLUTION”

There are tons of pieces of SEO software on the market today that range from automated link building tools like GSA Search Engine Ranker to tools like Scrapebox, often referred to as the Swiss Army Knife of link builders. Automated link building is not a good idea in 2016 unless you know exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it, and fully understand the risks of your methods. Other pieces of software are also wrongly demonized by those who don’t quite understand the many legitimate uses for those tools. Take Scrapebox for example, it was originally made to be a bulk comment spam tool and for that purpose, it is not useful to link builders any longer. On the other hand, you can use the tool to find broken links, locate resources pages at scale, and to pull URL lists from even huge sites, all of which are legitimate uses. Next time you read about a tool being the reason for an SEO failure, remember, no tool is better than its operator.

5. LINK BUILDING IS ALL YOU NEED

This may seem obvious to some of you but I have gotten numerous calls from people asking for our link building services and wanting to pass on any on-page SEO reviews or edits. As I touched on last week, SEO has evolved and with it, our role as marketers has also evolved. In order to successfully promote and rank a site, technical on-page SEO, page speed, UX, content assets and link building are all needed. If you want to get to and stay on top in 2016, you need to build assets that deserve to be ranked and that users will enjoy.

BONUS TIP: STOP ASKING – START RESEARCHING

I see and hear one type of question all the time. How many links do I need? What anchor text ratios should I use? How long does my content need to be? Etc. Etc. Etc.

The truth is, there is not a set number that you should shoot for across the board. If you are trying to rank for roofing services in St Louis, take the time to see what the top 10 sites are doing and make a side by side comparison of those metrics. You will quickly see that every keyword, niche and location takes a different combination to rank so stop asking for generalizations and spend that time doing research. My go-to tools for competitive research are SEMrush and Majestic Backlink Explorer, neither of which I am affiliated with.

 

14 Tools and Apps To Transform Your Twitter Engagement

By Brian Fanzo and first published on his Blog

Twitter, like all social media platforms, has changed drastically over the last couple years. And as the technology and networks have evolved, so too has their wider value and impact.

The learning curve for new users on Twitter is very high, but for those that are finding value on the platform or have had that “aha moment” via tweet, the question I’m most often asked is: “how do I scale, how do I engage more, how do I become a power user?”

I’ll admit I’m a technology and tools geek, (see my post: “40+ Social Tools I use for Personal Branding Success”) but before I share with you my favorite tools, you must understand that there is no easy button – to find value and build relationships, it takes effort and lots of work, just as it does offline.

Here are the 14 apps, tools and tactics that I use when engaging on Twitter. For me, engagement on Twitter must go beyond a RT, favorite or 140 character exchange. Embracing content and embedded material, such as custom graphics, audio clips and video, in combination with scheduling and social listening tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, not only allows you to stand out from the crowd, but enables you to generate engagement and conversations. My social media and personal branding philosophy is #ShowUcare, and if you embrace these tools you’ll have more time to be human, build relationships and do just that.

1. TweetDeck – Active, real-time dashboard that allows you engage and share from multiple twitter accounts.

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

2. Buffer – Tweet scheduling, RSS feed management, content suggestions, engagement analytics, team collaboration

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

3. Hootsuite – Social media management, RSS feed management, social listening feeds, team and account collaboration

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

4. Canva & Pablo by Buffer – Create custom graphics easily to share on Twitter

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

5. Periscope Meerkat – Live streaming video apps, leverages Twitter connections, posts live stream links to Twitter feed.

14 Apps and Tools To Transform Your Twitter Engagement | Social Media Today

6. Twitter Lists – Organize and filter your Twitter followers into organized feeds, subscribe and follow others lists.

7. ManageFlitter – Manage your followers, clear inactive followers, compare your followers to others, find new people to follow.

8. Mention – Social listening with alerts for each time your name, Twitter handle or other words.

9. Klear (formerly Twtrland) – Dashboard view of your account, influencers accounts and content being shared by your followers and followers of topics you follow

10. Twitter Video – 30 second video’s embedded into Twitter, take videos saying thank you or storytelling beyond 140 characters.

11. TweetBot or Twitter Mobile App – Leverage downtime with mobile Twitter apps, customize notifications to understand when your mentioned so you can engage in real-time.

12. Topsy – Search hashtags, compare hashtags and trends to better understand hashtags being used and which hashtags are best.

13. TweetChat / Nurph – Sites dedicated to Twitter chats, enables users to follow only chat hashtag to organize conversation.  Read more on Twitter chats here!

14. Meshfire – Twitter dashboard organized for team and campaign engagement, leverages artificial intelligence to give unique view of twitter conversations.

5 Steps to Creating a Profitable Facebook Advertising Campaign

By Neil Patel and originally posted on neilpatel.com.

Neil is a pretty big deal. You should check him out! Along with being a co-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, Neil has a successful consulting business.

funny ad

Almost all Internet users do 2 things on a regular basis:

First, they use search engines. Secondly, they use Facebook.

As a marketer or business owner, one of your biggest jobs is to funnel people from other websites to your own.

Your target audience hangs out in various parts of the web, but a huge percentage of any target audience uses search engines and Facebook.

That’s why they are so important, and why we pay so much attention to SEO andsocial media marketing.

Because once you’ve found your target audience, it’s just a matter of finding a way to get your content in front of them.

On Facebook, there’s a few ways to do that.

The main way (and by far the most effective) is to advertise.

This goes for just about all social networks. It’s why social media advertising spending continues to grow every year.

image16

On Facebook alone, there are over 1 million small businesses who use advertising.

Most social media marketers understand the value of Facebook ads. An impressive92% of social marketers advertise at least occasionally on Facebook.

But despite this overwhelming evidence that Facebook advertising can be successful, some people still claim that it’s not effective.

Many businesses spend a few dollar on advertising once, don’t get results, and then write off advertising as a failed experiment.

It’s obvious to you and me that this only shows that they don’t know what they’re doing.

The effectiveness of advertising depends on your knowledge, skills, and experience.

The more you advertise on a platform, like Facebook, the better you’ll get.

If you’ve been considering getting started with Facebook ads, this post will help push you over the edge.

I’m going to break down the 5 steps to Facebook advertising success. 

Step 1: Interesting comes first

Before you make your first ad, there’s something that you need to understand.

When it comes to the typical news feed of a user, there are hundreds of things vying for a click.

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There are links to different parts of Facebook in the left sidebar (messages, events, photos, etc.).

Additionally, there is a newsfeed of hundreds of posts by friends and brands. All of these have likes, comments, shares, and other links that can be clicked.

Finally, there are ads, trending topics, and friend suggestions in the right sidebar.

Add it all up, and there’s a lot going on.

This has an important implication for any ads you create: In order to get any attention, your ad needs to stand out from hundreds of competing elements.

They all want the user’s attention, but you need to find a way to attract it, and quickly get your message across.

You also need to consider that a lot of your competition consists of other ads. They can take up over half of the screen at times.

image23

So not only do you need to stand out from regular content, you also need to stand out against ads from large brands who spend a lot of money optimizing their ads to get attention.

The biggest rule behind attention: It’s pretty obvious which parts of an ad get the most attention.

Let’s look at a few example ads. Pay attention to where your eye is drawn first:

image27

If you’re like 99% of people, you saw the picture first.

While there are a few different types of ads you can run, most consist of just a few parts:

  • an image – which takes up 50+% of the ad space (and can have color)
  • a description – above the image in a newsfeed ad, or to the right in a sidebar ad
  • a headline – which is much more prominent in sidebar ads than newsfeed ads

All 3 parts can have a large effect on your ad’s performance.

The most important one, however, is the image.

Not only does it take up the most space, but it’s also the only way you can get your ad to stand out from everything else on the screen.

Your title will be a default fonts and blue color, while your description will be the default black font. These can’t stand out from everyone else’s, because they all look the same.

But your image can be anything you’d like (aside from offensive or banned images).

Many articles will tell you that a certain type of image will perform best for you. But they’re wrong.

The best performing image is one that contributes to the message of your ad, but also stands out from everyone else’s.

And the way you do that is simple:

Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

You gain attention from contrast, from creating an image that looks out of place.

Here’s an example. Everyone uses high quality stock images with a pretty overlay. It’s the easiest way to create beautiful custom images quickly.

But those pictures don’t always stand out.

In one split test, the arguably plainer and uglier ad crushed the other version.

image28

The ad on the right performed 143% better, which is huge.

While everyone else is using colorful, flashy pictures, they tried a super plain ad image that looked out of place. And it paid off.

How to craft an intriguing description: All effective ads need a high performing picture at this point, there’s no argument in that. The competition is just too high to profit without one.

So that’s your first priority, and it’s mostly how you stand out.

However, the second place that a reader’s eye goes is your description (often instead of your title in the newsfeed).

image11

While this area won’t attract as much attention as the image obviously, it is where you’re going to put the bulk of your message.

It’s difficult to communicate a message in a picture, which is why your description is so important.

It needs to quickly (in 2-3 lines) make the user interested enough to click through to your content or offer.

In general, you’ll get the best conversion rate by linking to a landing page that offers a free bonus, but they’ll be relatively low quality subscribers.

I would rather link to a piece of great content (perhaps one with a content upgrade), which will get a lower conversion rate, but the subscribers will be much more engaged in the future.

Don’t try to get clever with your description, just write the biggest benefit of clicking through to your page in as few words as possible (e.g. “Get a copy of ___ for free” or “learn how to get a 150% ROI with social advertising in this post…”).

Step 2: If you invest in Facebook Ads, invest in this as well…

Without even making your first ad, you already understand the most important part of it:

Your image.

A great image gives you the potential of having a great advertising campaign, while the wrong image can ruin campaigns from the start.

If you get one thing from this post, let it be this:

If you’re going to invest a significant amount of money in Facebook ads, you need to invest in your ad images.

No, they don’t have to be works of art, but they should be created by a designer.

If you are not a designer, that means paying for images. It’s worth it.

A small difference in conversion rate makes a big difference over time when an ad is show to tens of thousands of people, which is possible on Facebook.

And the right image on Facebook ads doesn’t just make a small difference, it can make a huge one.

One of the biggest mistakes I see and read about is when a business owner will set aside $100 and devote it all to paying for impressions/clicks.

Instead, they should use a portion of that to make better images than the random ones they throw together.

So what should you try to include in an image?

Like I said before, the best image will change depending on what competitors are using for their pictures.

So there is no “best type of image”, however, there are some general best practices that you should follow for just about every picture you use.

I’m going to focus on newsfeed ads (the big ones in the middle of a user’s feed) from now on, because they get a much higher interaction rate than sidebar ads.

image12

Principle #1 – Use the right size: If you upload an image that doesn’t match the dimensions that ad pictures are supposed to be, you’ll end up with a squished or cut off picture.

For obvious reasons, this isn’t effective.

So while using an image that is the right size won’t help you, it’s necessary in order to give you a chance of succeeding.

The tricky part is that images can be used in many ways.

Even if you just limited your ad to be shown in the newsfeed (which you can do), it will show up differently based on the user’s screen size and device.

It also depends on which type of ad you run. Some support larger images than others.

For these reasons, Facebook recommends a specific image size for each purpose:

image04

For the most part, you’ll either be advertising to get clicks to your website, or to get more likes and followers on your Facebook page (the 3rd and 4th types above)

The reason that the recommended size is so much bigger than it will actually show up as, is because Facebook will scale it down. If you use these recommended sizes, your image should show up well in almost all situations.

If you get really specific with how your ad is shown, you can create smaller images with exact dimensions.

image02

I’d recommend to stick with the image sizes provided by Facebook, but it’s up to you.

Principle #2 – Color: Probably the most effective way to attract attention online is through the use of color.

More specifically, through the use of contrast.

By using colors that are as different as possible from what the users expect, they stand out more.

You can figure out what these colors are by looking at a basic color wheel. Contrasting colors are on opposite sides of the wheel.

image07

Since Facebook is primarily blue (and white), it makes sense that pictures that contain orange will stand out.

Does that mean that orange is the best color?

It’s not that simple. It goes back to the point that you also need to stand out from your competition.

Since some of your competition also knows about contrasting colors, they use orange in your ads as well.

You could end up having a similar color scheme to a competing ad, which will reduce your ad’s effectiveness.

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In general, I’d stay away from dark blue, since that’s the color of Facebook. Aside from that, you should test multiple bright colors that may stand out (depending on other ads).

Principle #3 – Value proposition in picture: While the main purpose of your image is to draw attention, that doesn’t mean that it can’t contribute to your message.

When you have a really enticing offer, try to make it really clear in the picture:

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Users will read that text before deciding if they should read your description.

One thing to be aware of is that Facebook has a somewhat controversial rule about ad text in images.

The text in any image cannot exceed 20 percent of the image’s space. So don’t try to write long descriptions in your images, because they’ll likely be rejected.

Keep it short and simple.

Principle #4 – Make it shareable: One of the big benefits of Facebook ads are that they appear almost like normal content.

Users can, and do, “like” them and share them.

If you have a really great offer, it’s possible to have your ad shared many times, which will get it in front of more people without paying for it.

Obviously, going viral isn’t the easiest thing to do.

However, you can still benefit by making your images as shareable as possible.

Images with certain things in them are more likely to get liked and shared.

The most popular examples are kids and pets:

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You can’t always squeeze something cute into your images, but if you can: go for it.

Principle #5 – Be original: To stand out as much as possible, you need to do more than pick a clever color scheme.

Instead of using stock photos, have custom illustrations done.

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Including something funny or unexpected will attract more attention, and may also lead to more comments and shares as an added bonus.

Always try to find a way to include something that’s a bit unexpected that makes the user puzzled so that they spend a few extra seconds examining your ad.

Step 3: Money is won or lost in targeting. Here’s how to do it better

If you’ve ever done any paid advertising before online, you know how important targeting is to the success of a campaign.

If you target the right people, you obviously get more clicks and conversions.

But if you’re showing an ad about beef jerky to a vegan audience, your targeting is way off and you’ll make 0 sales.

In reality, you’ll be between the 2 extremes, but you should always aim to targetonly the people in your actual audience.

Due to all the data that Facebook has on people, they’ve been able to develop some amazing targeting tools that are very powerful when used right.

You can (and should) test all different options to see which targeting methods work best for you.

Option #1 – Create a website custom audience: Facebook advertising is all about “audiences” now. You need to specify the type of people you want to show your ads to, and Facebook takes care of the rest.

But there are a few different ways to create an audience.

One way is to create a custom audience, and I’m going to show you 2 variations of that, and why it’s so powerful.

What if you could advertise only to people that know who you are, but aren’t subscribed to you in any way? It’d be great, because you already have some credibility in their eyes.

Here’s what the first custom audience type consists of:

  • You install a tracking pixel on your website (just some HTML code)
  • If someone loads a page with your tracking code on it, they are added to your custom audience
  • You can create specific ads for these visitors

Fair warning, this is most effective if you have a decent volume of website traffic. If you’re only getting 50 people a day, you might find that you can’t get too many impressions with your ads.

If so, try a different method that I’ll show you soon.

If you do have decent traffic, here’s how you get your tracking pixel.

First, go to “ads manager” while logged in to your Facebook account. Click on “Tools” and then “Audiences” along the top toolbar:

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Next, click the first button to “create a custom audience”:

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That’ll trigger a pop-up with a few different options.

For this first variation, pick “website traffic”:

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Once you agree to the terms, you’ll get a new screen with a javascript code.

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You install it just like you install Google Analytics on your site. Copy and paste itsomewhere in your header:

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If you don’t want to track visitors to certain pages of your website, just don’t put the code on those pages.

Option #1(b) – Create a custom audience based on email subscribers: When you clicked that first blue button, there was one other really useful type of custom audience you can build.

This option allows you to upload the email addresses of your subscribers and customers. Facebook matches these to users so that you can advertise to those subscribers and customers.

There’s also one other amazing benefit of doing this that I’ll show you in option #2.

For now, select “customer list”.

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You have a few different options to import your data, pick whichever one you’d like:

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In most cases, it’ll be easiest just to upload a .csv or .txt file (the first option).

For example, in Aweber, if you go to your list of subscribers, you can click the “export CSV” button at the bottom to generate a file with all your subscribers data:

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Option #2 – Find tons of people that match your best customers: This is probably the most impressive feature of Facebook advertising.

It requires you to create a custom audience first, using either of the variations I already showed you.

Those are powerful targeting tools. But there’s one problem: They’re limited.

You only have so many people visit your website or on your email list. This can limit how far your Facebook ads can reach.

That’s where this option comes in, which allows you to create a “lookalike” audience.

Essentially, Facebook analyzes the custom audience you already made. Their demographics, the pages they like, and the content they post (among other things).

Then, Facebook looks at its billions of other users, and finds other people who share similar traits to your original audience.

This can expand your potential audience by thousands of times what it currently is. And it’s not just any audience, it’s a potential audience that matches the type of people who are already your customers and subscribers.

I hope you see how powerful this really is.

To set it up, go back to the first “audiences” page that you selected from the top menu.

Now, click the second blue button to “create a lookalike” audience.

It’s very simple from here.

In the “source” field, just put your cursor in the text box, and then pick your custom audience from the drop down menu that appears.

You also have the option to specify any countries that you prefer your audience live in.

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That’s really it.

Click the “create audience” button and you’ll now have a new audience in your account that you can target with your ads.

Option #3 – Learn to target by interests, but do it well (The standard option):Those first 2 options are great for creating highly targeted audiences that typically convert really well.

However, they do depend on having a decent sized audience already.

Understandably, you may not have a big enough audience yet.

Until you do, you’ll have to go with the old fashioned option, targeting by interests.

When you create an ad, there are a few different areas that allow you to pick options that narrow down Facebook users (that fit into it).

It starts with demographic options, which consists of hard data like age, gender, location, etc.

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The better you know your target audience, the better you’ll be able to fill out the demographics that you want to target.

Next up are the interests, which are the most important part.

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When you click on the field, you’ll get a large list of interests to choose from, or you can search for a specific term:

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These interests come from pages that users like, or at least interacted with.

It’s not perfect, but it can produce a fairly targeted audience.

The alternative is to continue down to the connections section. Choose “advanced combinations” from the dropdown menu:

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This lets you be a bit more specific, by entering the pages of your competitors. Your audience will consist of people who have liked those competing pages.

If you have to use this option, try to get as specific as possible. You shouldn’t have a huge audience at the end, or you’ve likely gone too broad and will have poor conversion rates.

Step 4: How much should you spend on Facebook ads?

As I’ve mentioned, Facebook advertising is highly competitive.

Not only that, it takes some time and practice to figure out the best way to convert Facebook users into subscribers or customers.

While Facebook advertising is relatively cheap, you still don’t want to be throwing money away on a campaign that isn’t going to deliver a positive return on investment (ROI).

Determining your bids: When you create an audience, you have a few different bidding options at your disposal:

  • Cost per click (CPC)
  • Cost per mille (CPM: Cost per 1,000 impressions)
  • Optimized CPM

In general, it’s best to go with CPC. When you bid per impression, you never know how where your ad will show up.

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll be able to set your maximum bid per click or 1,000 impressions.

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What you can also do, is have Facebook optimize your ad campaign for a specific event. For example, you can optimize for clicks on a link back to your website:

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You do need to be a little wary of this type of optimization.

If you optimize for clicks, Facebook is going to show your ad to users who click on things the most. These are usually the lowest quality traffic (but not always), because they’re always ready to click on the next thing.

Regardless of which options you choose, you’ll get a suggested bid range.

If you’re brand new to advertising, start on the low end of this range. The lower you bid, the fewer impressions you’ll get, but it still may be enough for you.

You can always increase bids later.

There isn’t a definitive best bidding option, you should try them all out.

How much will you spend? Don’t start out spending hundreds of dollars per day. Wait until you have a profitable campaign before you scale up to that.

When you’re first creating a campaign, you’re asked to specify your maximum daily budget.

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For most people, spending $5 per day is enough to start.

This will allow you to collect a good sample over a few weeks to determine if the ad campaign is worth trying to improve.

If a particular ad is performing horribly after a few thousand impressions – scrap it.

Step 5: The most profitable advertisers have one thing in common…

Most beginner advertisers have the wrong impression of successful advertisers.

They believe that experienced advertisers put together a few new ads for a campaign, and are able to achieve profitability on most of them.

The reality is that most ads are losers, at least initially.

The goal of your first ads shouldn’t be to get an amazing ROI, because it’s very unlikely that you will.

Your goal should be to get a slightly profitable or even a break-even result. I’ll tell you why this is a good thing in a minute.

But first, there’s one key thing that all good advertisers know…

They know if a campaign is profitable or not: Never start an advertising campaign without a specific purpose.

You may want to drive traffic to your website.

You may want to get more likes on your Facebook page.

It doesn’t matter: pick a goal that you think is important.

But before you get started, you need to know the value of that goal.

If you’re trying to convert that traffic into email subscribers, you need to have a very good idea of what a subscriber is worth.

The same thing goes for a Facebook like; how much is one worth to you?

If you don’t know this, you’ll never know if your advertising has a positive ROI or not. So estimate this value as accurately as possible.

You want to be able to go into your Facebook reporting, see the “cost per action” (click or like), and instantly know if you’re profitable or not.

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The difference between many losing and profitable campaigns: I just told you that a break-even first ad is a good thing.

Any guesses why?

The reason is that you can almost always improve your conversion rates by split testing those ads.

It’s pretty easy to turn most break-even ad campaigns into solid profiting ones.

For example, one split test was able to lower the cost per conversion from $2.6 to $1.04. That’s a 60% decrease in cost per conversion.

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That’s a pretty rare improvement, but smaller improvements can be made to most ads.

Split testing is very simple and doesn’t take a lot of time.

You simply duplicate an ad that you’ve created, keeping everything the same, and then you change only one part of it.

After you let it run for a statistically valid amount of time, you’ll be able to tell if that one change had any effect on your results.

What can you test?

  • The image
  • The description
  • The heading
  • Your targeting options

Typically, the image will have the biggest effect, based on the reasons we went over earlier.

I’ve included a whole chapter on how to run your first split test in my guide to conversion optimization.

Conclusion

Facebook represents one of the largest user bases on the entire Internet.

For 99%+ of niches, you can find a large portion of your target audience on Facebook.

Advertising is the most effective way to quickly get your message to this audience.

However, like any advertising, you can lose money if you’re not smart about it. But if you follow the 5 steps that I’ve laid out in this post, you’ll make fewer mistakes than most others would.