The Ultimate Guide to Permalink SEO: How to Rank Higher With Proven URL Tactics


seo-permalink

It’s no secret that it can take a long time to rank on the first page of Google.

And with each passing year, it seems like there are more elements than ever for webmasters to consider in the neverending climb to the front page.

But with all the changing and updating, there are some elements of SEO that you can rely on to always help you improve your rank on a results page.

One such element is the permalink.

There’s a good chance that even if you don’t know what a permalink is, you’ve been taught a few of the best practices already.

This part of your site and how it contributes to your SEO cannot be understated, and it’s worth your time to dig a little deeper into how you can use them effectively.

So in this post, I want to provide a guide that helps you establish permalinks that will act as a cornerstone of your content for years to come.

And to kick things off, I want to show you what a permalink is and why you should start optimizing them immediately.

How permalinks affect SEO

Permalinks are the full URL that users and search engines see when navigating through your site.

permalink

As the name suggests, permalinks are permanent even if you update the content on the page.

You can think of it like you would your physical address.

You have a number, street name, city, state, and zip code in that case.

Unless you move down the street, your address will stay the same forever.

The same sort of principle applies to a permalink, but in this case, you’re talking about your website.

It has a distinct set of parts that tells a web browser which page to navigate to and display on your screen.

In fact, there are at least six distinct parts of a URL.

You have the protocol:

url 1

This tells your browser how to transfer data over the Internet.

The domain name then follows the protocol:

url 2

This where your website comes into play and is navigated to.

Then, you will sometimes see a port:

url 3

Generally speaking, this element is omitted because it’s a redundant signal of the protocol.

Next is the filename or post name:

url 4

This dictates where on your site the user is navigating to.

If they’re navigating to a blog post or a product page, this is the part of your URL that tells the browser or Google’s crawlers where to go.

From there, you have a set of parameters:

url 5

You can think of this part of the URL as a conversation between your site and a search engine.

If you use canonical tags or robot.txt for your SEO, this is where the magic happens.

Last but not least is the anchor:

url 6

This is a shortcut that can allow a user to skip to a particular section of your content immediately upon loading in.

So with a permalink, you have to decide which elements you want to include in daily use on your site.

That’s where the debate on optimizing permalinks starts.

To see what different formats your permalinks can take, check out the Permalinks option on your WordPress dashboard.

640px options permalinks

But why is all of this important?

First of all, Google considers the URLs you use on your website to be a ranking factor.

That means that the permalinks you use and the structure you decide on adopting is ultimately an SEO signal.

Coupled with the fact that URLs are meant to signal what the contents of a page are about, it’s absolutely vital to ensure that your permalinks are helping instead of hurting.

urls

My permalinks are custom-made to match the title of my content closely.

It’s just one of the many ways you can attempt to signal how relevant and reliable your page is to Google’s crawlers.

But as with many SEO topics, there are a few technical aspects that you’ll need to consider to make sure your permalinks are contributing to your overall SEO strategy.

I want to show you six proven tips that will help you make sure that your URLs are boosting your SEO and helping you reach the first page of Google.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to create a long-term strategy that should be usable for years to come.

And to kick things off, you should decide on one stable structure for your permalinks that never changes.

Tip #1: Keep a consistent structure

Deciding how to structure your URLs can be difficult.

You’ve already seen the different options that WordPress will let you pick from, but which is best for your SEO?

Should you use the default settings, or include your post name?

These are questions that webmasters have been asking for years when the answer has been in front of us since 2010:

In this video, Google’s Matt Cutts breaks down what he thinks when looking at a URL structure.

In short, he claims that picking one structure over another won’t exactly correlate to a direct SEO influence.

Instead, your URL structure is more a question of UX.

The best way to approach creating a structure for your URLs is to think of it like you would your site architecture.

When you build a site, you want your pages to create a natural flow for your users. That’s referred to as information architecture.

EN Informationsarchitektur

When creating your site’s architecture, you need to build it so that a user can easily find what they came for.

That includes creating a hierarchy of links that follow a similar format to your architecture.

When building that hierarchy, you need to do what works best for your users.

So for the sake of user experience, your game plan should be to establish a universal structure and then stick to it.

Think of this process like you would a silo on your site.

In many instances, a website with poor architecture and unoptimized permalinks could look like a jumbled up jar of marbles.

jar mixedmarbles

The information architecture and permalink structure on your site should attempt to make these marbles show up in different jars.

jar marbles redjar marbles greenjar marbles yellow

Or, it should at least put everything in one jar so that it’s easier to understand what’s what.

jar marbles siloed

This metaphor applies to both your product pages and your content.

As you’re building out this user-friendly site structure, you should also be concerned with how your URLs imitate this flow and help users further understand your site.

For example, you could break down each section into categories based on which level of your site they appear on:

3 example site structure

When your permalinks follow a similar format to your site structure, it allows both search engines and your user to use your site better.

By merging your permalink structure with your site’s architecture, your user should be able to create much more in-depth content structures that allow every aspect of your site to flourish.

If you want an excellent example of how this could look, check out how the journal makers at Moleskine have created a structure on their website.

mskine

When you navigate to a page that displays a particular line of their journals, they break down the URL into a specific path.

This helps the user understand where on the website they’ve navigated and allowed Google to understand the structure of the website accurately.

Then when a product is clicked on, the URL breaks into a hyphenated description of the product based on keywords.

mskine 2

Once again, this makes it easier for the user to know what to expect on the page.

And Google has an exact understanding of what’s on the page, as displayed by this screenshot of the search results for “Yellow Notebook.”

mlskn

By creating a set structure, Moleskine helps both their user and Google understand where they are on the site.

These early URL signals ultimately create an easier user experience and have landed them at the top of the search engine results page.

moleskin

If the structure were jumbled and confused, both parties would have a harder time navigating and understanding the site.

You should also avoid dynamic URLs generated by your website’s content management service that looks like this:

dynamic

While search engines have no trouble indexing this type of URL, it’s not the most friendly URL to read or try to remember.

It also doesn’t allow you to include a keyword or establish the site architecture I’ve been showing you, which means your SEO will take a hit.

Thankfully, there are tools you can use such as the Mod Rewrite Generator from Generate It!.

All you have to do is input the dynamic URL and let it create a rewritten version.

mod rewrite

Once the URL is rewritten, you can add or remove from the cleaner rewrite.

When you’re satisfied, click done and follow the outlined steps to ensure that your new static URL is used on your site.

mod rewrite 2

Creating a smooth URL structure throughout your site is the best approach, and can potentially help get you results like this.

At the very least, it will help you remember where products or content are on your website, and will undoubtedly make every other tip in this post easier to implement.

Tip #2: Use a keyword rich URL

Once you’ve figured out the URL structure for your permalinks, you need to start considering how you’re going to incorporate keywords in your URLs to boost your SEO.

Much like the keywords that you use on your blog or product pages, keywords in your permalinks help Google understand the content on your page.

So whenever possible, it’s a good idea to use a keyword in a permalink.

Creating a consistent keyword strategy in URLs paid off in the long term as shown in one case study.

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The brand was able to rank for more than 3,000 organic keywords, and even saw a sharp rise in organic traffic as their strategies started to take effect.

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As of today, they average more than 2,000 visitors each month because of their overall keyword strategy.

But how do you determine which keywords you should use to help your SEO?

In this case, I recommend using a tool like SEMrush to find search volume statistics for various keywords.

Say you have a website that you plan to use to sell pianos.

You could simply type “pianos” in the search bar.

semrush

You’ll be navigated to a dashboard where you can select phrase match or related keywords that break down the search volume for each word or phrase on a monthly basis.

semrush 2

By clicking through to either report, you can also get a more in-depth analysis of your keyword options.

semrush 3

Use this list to create your own strategy for keywords.

You can also dig deeper by searching again for some of the keywords you find in your search.

Make sure you incorporate long-tail keywords and low competition keywords as well.

When you create your content or product page, use a relevant keyword in your URL to help signal to Google what your page is about.

Or, you could also buy a URL that has a specific keyword you want to rank for.

Once you’ve chosen the top keyword you want to rank for, navigate to Google Domains and see if the URL is available for purchase.

piano

In this case, I decided to search for the words “upright piano.”

While uprightpiano.com isn’t available, other options like the .net or .co options are for sale.

By buying this URL, you send an immediate signal to Google and your visitors about your site’s content.

And if you can’t find the URL you want, I highly recommend checking out this guide.

By creating an exact match URL, you’ll be in a better position to outrank your competition so long as you maintain a high-quality website.

matt cutts domain match tweet

Exact match URLs used to be a broad strategy that saw some less optimized sites ranking higher than others.

While that’s no longer the case, it can still help you stand out to Google and potentially rank you higher than your competitors.

For an excellent example of this, look no further than the deal site Hotels.com.

When you search for “hotels” on Google, they rank in the number one position.

hotels

While this won’t immediately rank you higher, it’s another way that your URL can give you a slight edge with the right conditions.

And even if you don’t use an exact match URL, finding the right keywords to include in your permalinks will help you start ranking for more keywords and see more organic growth.

Your URLs will be more memorable, and you’ll always have your target keyword included in every page on your site.

Tip #3: Use shorter URLs

When starting to fine-tune your permalink structure, you should always aim to use a more concise URL structure to help your SEO.

The average URL on a number one ranked page is only 59 characters long.

That’s not a lot of space to work with, but it can have a serious impact on your SEO.

That same study also shared an experiment that showed how shortening the title and URL of a page sparked a jump to the front page of Google in only 15 minutes.

Title Length vs Position

When averaging eight words or less in your title and URL, there’s a serious increase in page rank that accompanies it.

In a recent video, I was asked this very question by one of my audience members.

I explained that a shorter, keyword rich URL tends to rank you higher in Google.

You’ll get more brand queries, and you’ll have more instances where your visitors remember the full URL they visited.

One marketer even reported a sharp jump to the first page of Google when his brand shortened their landing page’s URL by only 25 characters.

That means users will be more likely to share or come back at a later time.

I also explain how long URLs can pigeonhole your topic and could potentially make Google either ignore them or rank them for less inclusive searches.

So using the right practices when shortening a URL can help your SEO.

But when shortening your permalinks, you can’t just use a service like Bitly.

Bitly is a popular URL shortener that helps you track clicks on your website or social media by converting the URL to a more character-count friendly version.

bitly example

This type of URL shortener was wildly popular when Twitter was still using a 140 character limit, but they’re not that great for permalink SEO.

All these shortened links do is act as a 301 redirect that allows a third party to help you track links.

While you don’t lose all of the link juice from one of these, it’s not as impactful on your SEO as using your own permalink.

Instead, consider using a shorter structure like the post name option in your WordPress settings.

This helps you emphasize your keyword to the search engine you’re trying to rank on, and it achieves the ultimate goal of a shorter URL.

This is why I use my name as my brand.

short url

All together, my website’s URL is only 21 characters long.

It took years of work, but people now consistently search for Neil Patel when they want to find my content.

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If I were to use a longer or different URL, I could potentially have a harder time ranking for my own name.

And when you look further at individual pages in my blog, you’ll notice that my URLs are still as short as possible.

short

I keep them relevant to the topic of the post, and I typically avoid using stop words to keep the URL as short as possible.

Stop Words

While this might risk a more awkward URL, it ensures that nothing but my domain and relevant post information appear.

It’s just another way that you can keep your URLs short.

And ultimately, this practice can help your permalink SEO and boost your organic search traffic.

Tip #4: You don’t always need a www. or a .com

This fact may surprise you, but the common tags most people use for a website aren’t necessary for permalink SEO.

In fact, one case study found that pages with a .com had a harder time ranking on the front page of Google than other domain name extensions.

2017 05 02 10 45 31 DNA SEO Study Infographic Final.pdf

That means it could be in your favor to consider buying something other than the .com version of your domain.

And whether you use the “www” extension on your site is entirely up to you as well, but should be consistent across the board.

That element depends on what you set as your Preferred Domain in Google Search Console.

Just select the site settings option on your dashboard.

gsc

Then decide whether you want your site’s preferred domain to include or exclude the www.

gsc 2

You can then remove the “www” extension in the general settings of your WordPress site to make sure everything is consistent.

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When you do this, it signals to Google that it should prioritize and display your site without the www extension.

While this may be mostly cosmetic, it’s another way that you can shorten your URL and optimize your user experience.

Consider dropping the www. or using a domain that doesn’t use a traditional .com if it allows you to keep a shorter URL or tap into keywords that are easier to remember for your audience.

Tip #5: Avoid dates in your URL

If you ask most SEO what they think of dates in a URL, they’ll tell you they were never very helpful to begin with.

And a recent case study backs up this belief beyond all doubt.

Harsh Agrawal from Shout Me Loud recently decided to test the effects of retroactively adding dates to older content.

He went back and added dates on posts that ranged from 2008 to the present day, and immediately saw a sharp decline in organic traffic.

Date stamp effect on SEO

Keep in mind that this is on old content that had been providing steady rates of traffic for years.

By merely adding a date, users were seemingly opting to find what they saw as more relevant and up-to-date content.

Harsh also saw a drop in overall keyword rankings, which only cemented the results of this test.

Keyword ranking drop

The key to remember here is that people tend to look for more updated posts, which can affect your organic traffic and your bounce rate in the long run.

Keeping the date out of your permalink structure can help you rank higher and win more organic traffic as time goes on.

If you want to include a date, publish it in the actual blog post and make sure to update the content frequently to keep it fresh and relevant to your audience.

Tip #6: Start using HTTPS

Using HTTPS is just a good idea in general when it comes to your site.

This protocol uses an SSL certificate to help give web users peace of mind when sharing potentially sensitive data on a website.

And it’s essential to your permalink SEO because it’s been an SEO signal since 2014.

But recent changes have made HTTPS more important than ever for online brands.

In April 2017, Google announced that it would be improving the Chrome browser’s alerting system on sites that only use the HTTP protocol.

They created highly visible notices designed to warn their users about the security of the site they’re on.

https

So when a user sees red pop up in the URL bar, they’ll be less likely to share their personal information with you.

That means instead of interacting with your site and sharing contact or credit card information, they’ll bounce.

That ultimately hurts your SEO even more, so it pays to take the extra effort and utilize HTTPS on your site.

If you want a service that can do all of this for you hands off, I recommend looking into Let’s Encrypt to ensure all user data stays safe.

By using a complex system of checks and verifications, they distribute SSL certificates that help keep your business and your customers safe.

le

As of early 2017, they averaged around a half million SSL certificates each day and peaked at over 1.2 million in December 2016.

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By adding SSL certificates to your site, you’ll be doing your SEO and your audience a favor.

The extra piece of mind will help you continue to build your site’s presence with confidence in your user experience and security in the years to come.

What to do if you can’t change your URL structure

For brands that have established URLs but want to improve permalink SEO, you may be a little nervous about tampering with your permalink structure.

And this isn’t without good cause.

You should always take great care when making significant changes to your website, as you don’t want your existing SEO to take a hit.

Thankfully, there are still actions you can take that will allow you to change your URL structure and not lose your previous organic rankings.

First and foremost, you’ll need to decide on your new structure and make the necessary changes in WordPress.

Then, you’ll need to create 301 redirects to make sure that your old content is directed to the proper URL.

And despite what you may have heard, 301 redirects do not lose page rank.

That means you can set up your 301 redirects with a service like Pretty Links without risking your hard-won ranking.

add new link 1

All you have to do is add your target URL or the old permalink, and then amend it to the new Pretty Links version.

One brand even experimented with their 301 redirects by removing many of them from their aged content.

Remove Redirect 2

They saw an immediate drop in traffic because of it and started seeing an immediate improvement when they added them back.

You can salvage much of your older content with 301 redirects and create a permalink strategy that will help your business tremendously in the long run.

As a part of a greater permalink SEO strategy, you’ll be much better situated to focus on other SEO matters that can help you climb the search engine rankings.

Conclusion

Permalink SEO may not be at the top of your SEO to-do list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Your URLs have a direct and lasting impact on your site’s SEO, so it pays to be methodical when you start trying to make your way to the front page of Google.

Start by determining the structure you want to use and then keep your URLs as consistent as possible.

You should also take some time to do some keyword research and make sure that you’re trying to rank for the right words and phrases.

It’s also a good idea to buy a keyword-rich URL from the start, if possible.

Once you’ve set a structure and found your keywords, your next goal is to keep your URLs as short as possible.

This will keep your permalinks memorable and easy to understand.

You can also consider dropping domain extensions like the www or .com to keep your URL even shorter.

Next, you’ll want to make sure you avoid using any dates in your URL.

This practice has never seemed to help, and the data indicates that it can even hurt your SEO.

And last but not least, start using HTTPS to secure your user’s experience on your site.

All of these tips will help you boost your permalink SEO and create a long-lasting strategy that will yield positive results.

And if you’re on the fence about transitioning your older site to a new structure, don’t hesitate to use appropriate 301 redirects.

In the end, you’ll have a more well-rounded SEO strategy and a uniform structure for your site that will make future growth that much easier.

Have you seen improvements from an optimized permalink structure in your experience?

The post The Ultimate Guide to Permalink SEO: How to Rank Higher With Proven URL Tactics appeared first on Neil Patel.



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Cultivate Some Skills and Sharpen Your Copywriting Mojo


Reminder: Today at 11:00 a.m. Pacific / 2:00 p.m. Eastern, Rainmaker Digital CEO Brian Clark and Ricardo Bueno from RightMessage are hosting a Free Web Personalization Workshop. You’ll learn how to increase your opt-ins (and sales) by personalizing your landing pages and sales sequences. Get all the details and register here: https://rightmessage.com/w/copyblogger-may24/?fp_ref=copyblogger31 We love subtle
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How to Enhance Your Content by Building Infographics with These 12 Tools


Those of you who have been reading my blogs for a while know I’m a huge advocate of using visual elements to enhance my blog posts.

In addition to being visually appealing, images can actually improve the performance of your articles. That’s because blogs with pictures receive 94% more views than posts without them.

According to a recent study from the Content Marketing Institute, 73% of marketers say their top priority is to create more engaging content.

And 55% of these content creators are prioritizing visual content.

If you haven’t been using images to enhance your content, you should consider starting with some infographics. Even if you have included pictures in some of your old content, you can take this strategy to the next level by building custom infographics.

That’s because infographics are a combination of text and images. Research shows people follow directions 323% better if the directions include both text and illustrations.

On social media platforms, infographics get liked and shared at three times the rate of all other content.

Once you start building infographics, you will drive more traffic to your website. That’s because other people will use your custom images to enhance their own content.

As a result, you will consistently build backlinks, which will improve your SEO.

Now that you understand why you need to create infographics, it’s time for me to show you how. There are tons of tools available, but not all of them are created equal.

I’ve narrowed down the top 12 tools for building infographics.

1. Easel.ly

If you want to create an infographic fast and efficiently, Easel.ly is a great place to start.

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Above is a sampling of some of their top infographic templates. All you need to do is select the template you want and plug in your information.

They’ve got a template for everything. Some are designed to fit more text on the page, while others prioritize numbers from any research you may have conducted.

It’s free to use Easel.ly, but if you want premium templates, you can access over 500 of them for a fee. I recommend starting off with the free ones to see whether you’re happy with the platform before upgrading your membership.

Another cool feature of this platform is that they have community infographics built by others. You can plug your information into those as well.

The Easel.ly website features an easy to follow guide on how to create content on their platform. They also offer a live customer service chat option in case you have questions or run into any problems with the platform.

2. Pitkochart

Pitkochart is another top option for beginners. The platform makes it easy to create custom infographics without any design experience.

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In addition to infographics, they have other design templates as well. You can build things such as:

  • flyers
  • posters
  • presentations
  • reports

Some of my favorite types of infographics on Pitkochart are the graphs. It’s a great way for you to display your numbers in a custom chart.

Pitkochart also has a map feature. You can customize the color options on these maps to show how different states, regions, or countries have varying results for your discussion.

Speaking of color options, Pitkochart has many. You can select colors for each portion of your infographic, or you can choose preset color schemes.

It’s an important feature because different color schemes can impact sales on your website.

They have a library of more than 1,000 icons. You can use these without having to pay licensing fees or give an attribution to the creator.

This definitely makes things less complicated, which allows you to spend your time and effort on building the infographics.

Once you build your infographic on Pitkochart, they help you name your image so that it’s optimized for SEO. Then, you can share it directly from the platform.

They have sharing options for email, ebooks, and social media. You can get an embedd link for your website, share it with your team, or download a high-resolution version of your infographic.

3. Venngage

Are you a student? If so, Venngage will let you use their software free. But everyone else will have to pay for the platform.

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Their monthly rate is $19 for individuals and $49 for businesses. It may seem pricey, but the business membership comes with premium features such as:

  • custom templates
  • unlimited infographics
  • 100 image uploads
  • branding help
  • charts
  • icons
  • team collaboration
  • high-resolution downloads

If you know you want to take advantage of these features for the entire year, you can pay upfront annually and receive a 20% discount off your membership.

Venngage is great because their infographic templates are seemingly endless. With so many options, it’s less likely you’ll have similar to other infographics templates already published on the Internet.

This can make your brand stand out from the crowd.

They also group their infographics based on several categories. You can build the right image for whatever you’re trying to illustrate. Some of the top categories include:

  • statistical
  • lists
  • timelines
  • geographic
  • real estate
  • nonprofit
  • human resources

They even have “fun data” templates to help you display your unique research in a way that’s easy to comprehend.

4. Visme.co

A list of visual design tools wouldn’t be complete without Visme.co. The platform specializes in all kinds of visual content, including infographics.

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If you need to make an infographic that compares multiple variables, Visme.co has more than 20 charts and tables to choose from.

There are a couple of different ways you can input data into these visuals. Your first option is to type the numbers in manually. But if you have lots of information, you may prefer to import your data.

Another cool feature of these charts is the ability to connect with live data.

All of the templates have customizable fonts. You can change the color, size, and style of your text. Don’t see a font you like? No problem. Visme.co lets you upload your own fonts as well.

This software can help you take your infographics to the next level by making them more engaging. You can add video and audio files.

They also give you the option to embed polls, surveys, and maps. You can even add motion features, like popups, to your infographic.

Once your infographic is published, you can track how well it’s performing. The analytics tools tell you how many people saw your infographic, what type of device they used, their location, and level of engagement.

5. Infogram

Infogram is another one of my favorites. The platform allows you to fully customize every element of each infographic you create.

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In addition to infographics, you can also use this software to create:

  • reports
  • charts
  • maps
  • dashboards

Infogram also helps you build images specially designed for your social media channels.

Their platform has more than one million icons and images, all royalty-free.

What I like most about Infogram is their editing tool. You can drag, drop, and move every element on the screen to fully customize your design.

If you have data that needs to be imported, it’s easy for you to upload spreadsheets from Excel, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. You can even use a cloud service or their API to set up live data integration.

They have interactive charts and maps at your disposal as well.

Ultimately, if you need a one-stop shop for all your infographic needs, you can’t go wrong with Infogram.

6. Canva

Even if you don’t plan on making a ton of infographics, Canva has plenty of other design tools for you to take advantage of. Those of you who are a little bit more advanced will enjoy the graphic design features offered on this platform.

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One of my favorite elements of the Canva platform is the versatility it offers. You can use it on the Internet as well as your iPhone or iPad.

They specialize in photo editor, color palette, and font combinations. But their infographic building tools are just as good, if not better. You don’t need to have a design background to figure it out.

Unlike some of the other Canva tools, the infographic builder is free to use. All you have to do is create a Canva account before you get to work.

Their library has more than one million photos, illustrations, and graphics for you to choose from. If you’re not happy with their selection, you can also upload your own images.

Once your image is uploaded, you can select a font from over 130 options. They make it easy for you to change the background and color scheme too.

After you’re satisfied with your custom layout, you can save these unique templates to your account. This makes it easy for you to repurpose the same layouts for your future infographics. It’s one of my favorite time-saving marketing tools.

If you’re not satisfied with all the elements in the free Canva library, they have premium elements available for purchase.

But unlike some of the more expensive infographic tools we’ve seen, the Canva premium purchases cost only $1 at most. It’s an extremely cost-effective way to enhance your infographics.

7. iCharts

If you want something a little bit different from the tools on our list so far, iCharts definitely fits the description.

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This platform is cloud-based. It’s a visual analytics tool allowing you to organize complicated business information.

You can use iCharts to simplify data from extensive research studies. Since it’s a cloud-based platform, you can access it from wherever you are. Nothing needs to be installed on a device.

They have a feature letting you implement real-time data integration.

This option isn’t a typical infographic builder. But you can still export the charts and graphs to enhance your content with custom images.

8. Skitch

Similar to our last tool, Skitch doesn’t necessarily build custom infographics either. But I use Skitch every day to help enhance my visual content.

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Some of you may not be interested in building all your infographics from scratch. That’s OK.

If you’ve got a Mac, you can use Skitch to help you customize infographics from other sources. Here’s how you do it.

Once you download Skitch on your Apple device, which is free by the way, you can use it to take screenshots of infographics. Then you can markup specific sections with arrows, boxes, and text to make it your own.

Regular readers of my blog posts might recognize the pink arrows and annotations from Skitch. That’s what I use to mark up the images on my blog.

If you use this tool to help you build infographics, make sure you give proper credit to your image sources.

9. Creately

Creately is a platform specializing in creating unique diagrams for your business.

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Although they aren’t exactly the same, diagrams and infographics are very similar, which is why I thought it was worth adding this tool to my list.

I recommend Creately for businesses that have multiple designers producing content at the same time.

With this software, you can collaborate with up to 20 team members on the same project with real-time updates, edits, and changes to your design.

They have over 1,000 diagrams for you to choose from. Even if you don’t want to publish your diagrams, you can use the tool for in-house projects such as building a customer journey map.

10. Google Charts

When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to use tools you’re familiar with. As a business owner, you’ve likely used Google Analytics to help you with your marketing solutions.

Well, Google Charts is another great option offered with your Google account.

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Once you determine which types of data sets you want to include, you can customize your design fully. You get to select which type of chart you want to use from Google’s extensive gallery.

It’s easy to add these infographics to your website, email messages, and social media channels.

Their dynamic data feature allows you to connect your data source so the charts updated with real-time information.

Google really stands apart from the crowd when it comes to customer service. There are thorough guides to help you with the tool. Every section has step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions.

11. Gliffy

If you’re looking for another tool for creating custom diagrams, Gliffy is a great choice to consider.

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The software is extremely easy to use. You won’t need any type of design skills to build your infographics.

Everything is done with an HTML5 editor, so you don’t need to download anything to your devices in order to use this tool.

If you want to get your project done as fast as possible without building your own template, it’s no problem. Gliffy has ready-made templates. All you need to do is plug in your information.

Share your infographic with an embed link, or upload it directly to your social media profiles.

You can also use Gliffy to collaborate with your team members. Grant access to people whom you trust making edits to your design.

12. Wordle

Not every infographic needs to be a complicated set of data.

Sometimes, it’s effective to have only one statistic or sentence displayed to stand out from the rest of your content. If that’s the case, Wordle is one of your best options.

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This platform is made for creating word clouds. You can use customized fonts and templates to create these unique images.

You can even use Wordle to reinforce a point you made within the text of one of your blog posts.

Conclusion

Images and visual elements are more powerful than words alone.

That’s why you need to be using infographics to enhance your content. But if you don’t want to search for infographics online, the tools I’ve outlined above allow you to create your own.

Don’t get me wrong: there are dozens of other infographic building tools available on the Internet. But from my experience, these ones are the best places for you to get started.

There’s something on this list for everyone—it just depends on what you’re looking for.

Some of these tools are free, while others charge a fee. Certain tools are better for charts and datasets, while others specialize in custom images and animations.

Refer to this guide for all your infographic creation needs.

What tools does your company use to enhance your visual content strategy with infographics?





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The Ultimate Guide to Taking and Optimizing Ecommerce Product Images


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According to DigitalCommerce360, 51% of users prefer to conduct their shopping with online e-commerce shops.

While that number is increasing, it still leaves a gigantic portion of the world preferring to shop offline in real brick and mortar stores.

To see, feel, and try products before they spend their hard-earned money.

And that is one of the biggest e-commerce struggles:

Overcoming hesitation and roadblocks like the inability to try the product before buying it.

But thankfully, images allow us to capture the same sentiment. But it isn’t easy.

E-commerce images can make or break your conversions.

We’ve all come across sites where the images aren’t good. They don’t showcase the product, and they don’t make us want to buy the product.

In e-commerce, images are everything.

You need to know how to take the best product shots if you want better conversions.

Here’s how to take amazing product shots on a low budget and optimize them for better SEO and conversions today.

Why premium e-commerce photos are critical for driving better sales

We all love Amazon. It’s our saving grace, right?

And that’s not just a “saying” or an assumption. People are truly addicted to Amazon, including me.

According to Statista, the net revenue of sales for Amazon in 2017 was 177.87 billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion, not million.

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Since 2012, Amazon Prime growth has virtually skyrocketed. I bet you could text five of your close friends and at least three of them would have Amazon Prime subscriptions.

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According to the latest studies, Amazon is slotted to account for nearly half of all e-commerce sales by 2021. And that’s just Amazon alone compared to all other e-commerce stores combined.

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So, what’s behind their success?

Simplicity and ease of use. You can order products with a single click and have them delivered on the same day with Amazon Prime Now.

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Free two-day shipping is a massive selling point for Amazon buying too:

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Amazon makes the buying experience enjoyable and easy. With hassle-free returns, free shipping, and often lower or price-matched products, it’s a no-brainer to buy from them.

But even with all of this insane growth and value, a 2017 study by Retail Dive found some interesting results:

49% of consumers prefer retail stores to online shopping because they can “see, touch, feel, and try out items.”

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People still love the traditional retail experience of going to stores to test items before buying.

And it makes sense.

You don’t want to wait for a product to be shipped and delivered only for it to be a bust and not fit or work.

That means another week for returns and another week for delivery.

It sets you back tons of time and effort that could have been solved by a simple drive to the brick and mortar store.

eMarketer found similar results to the Retail Dive study, finding that in almost every single industry, shoppers in the United States prefer to purchase in-store:

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And these studies are very recent!

While it seems that online shopping is taking over, customers are still heading to their local shops to purchase items.

This presents a big problem and opportunity for online e-commerce shops:

Images are more important than ever.

You need to be able to communicate the same value and experience as touching, feeling and experience the product in a store.

You can’t simply slap a few images on your products and call it a day.

They need to be planned out and taken with intent. They need to communicate value and showcase how and why the product is going to work for the consumer.

Let me show you some examples of the best e-commerce sites right now and how they use images to drive online sales in a market that still loves offline buying.

What we can learn from the best e-commerce stores about product images

When it comes to good e-commerce product shots, you know one when you see it.

I bet you could think of at least five stores that have incredible product photos.

Maybe some that have even influenced you to buy or see that brand in a more favorable light.

Yes, good e-commerce photos are that powerful.

There is perhaps a no better example of amazing e-commerce photos as GoPro. They are the masters of getting you to buy through amazing visuals.

And it’s not just their amazing photos, but the strategy behind them.

For example, when you first land on a product page, you are met with the standard product shot that you expect to see:

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This is wonderful. It plays directly to their brand image while also giving a high-resolution photo for consumers to view.

Scrolling down, you also see the product in its prime use case scenario:

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With the product in actual use, consumers can visualize themselves using the product.

Scrolling even further, you see the GoPro on a table next to a smartphone:

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This photo conveys a dual purpose:

  1. The product is super small and compact enough to carry with you anywhere you go.
  2. GoPro has a mobile app to connect your footage to your phone instantly.

Incredible.

All with a few simple photos, GoPro showcased the product design and features, consumers using the product and it’s compact design that appeals to its fanbase.

E-commerce photos are more than just product shots. They are visual representations of how your product is supposed to be used, and they also convey the spirit of your brand.

Another amazing company that dominates e-commerce images is Alex and Ani.

First, they showcase the product with up-close high-resolution photos, allowing users to see every small detail on their jewelry:

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Next, just like GoPro, they display their bracelets in action to inspire style ideas in potential buyers and showcase what outfits and lifestyles match up well with that specific product:

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These e-commerce product images are far from standard photos. They evoke emotion and promote the brand mission.

With these examples in mind, you should now have a clear idea of where your e-commerce product photos need to be.

Brainstorm more on how you can show your products in creative ways.

Can you show your product in action?

For example, being used as your customers normally would use it? Or even shown on a customer like Alex and Ani do?

Once you’ve nailed down a few creative ways to showcase your product, it’s time to learn how to take better e-commerce product images even if you don’t own expensive equipment.

How to take better e-commerce product images on a low budget

Hiring a professional photographer to take shots of your products is expensive.

Top-tier professionals charge anywhere from $250 to $500 an hour, or even up to $2,000 or more per image.

But the truth is:

You don’t need it. You can take amazing pictures with your smartphone or a standard digital camera.

Here are a few key tips for taking better e-commerce product images without blowing your budget on outside hires or expensive equipment.

Tip #1: Invest in a flexible tripod to capture angles

One of the best items you can invest money in is a tripod. But not just any tripod.

For taking e-commerce shots, I recommend using a flexible tripod.

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Flexible tripods allow you to capture amazing angles on your products with a consistent, non-blurry shot.

And the most significant benefit is that you can attach a flexible tripod to just about any surface, railing or piece of equipment.

Meaning you can take outside shots and great photos to showcase your product and branding.

Plus, they are often incredibly cheap.

With just a smartphone and your flexible tripod, you can snap amazing photos of your products in minutes:

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And that brings us to our next point:

Tip #2: perfect your lighting

Lighting is a critical factor in producing better e-commerce photos.

If you can’t get good lighting, your shots won’t look professionally done.

In fact, it’s often lighting that sets apart the best e-commerce product shots from amateur photos.

It’s incredibly easy to spot poorly done product images where the lighting creates shadows and unfavorable angles on the product itself.

Before messing around with lighting, you should know the differences between both natural and artificial light.

Natural light is merely light produced from the sun. You aren’t using any form of lamp or electric source to produce light.

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Natural light is very vibrant, sharp and defined. You can see every bit of detail on the product above.

Now compare that to artificial light:

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Artificial light is often tinted yellow depending on what light source you are using.

So, when should you use each?

Natural light is best when the product is showcased outside. For example, if your product is used outdoors, use natural light. Is your product worn on a person? Use natural light.

Artificial light is perfect for showcasing particular products like a watch or a wallet, where you want to showcase every single detail in the product.

Experiment with both light types, but be sure to keep it consistent with all of your products.

Tip #3: use a sweep to produce cleaner images

Have you ever heard of a sweep before? Maybe not, but you have likely seen it in action on your favorite e-commerce shops:

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A photography sweep is an act of creating a ramp with posterboard paper that gives the effect of limitless white space behind your product.

For example, take a look at what your product looks like using a sweep compared to not using one:

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Sweeps are great for producing consistent white space that isn’t impacted by shadows, creases or changes in backgrounds.

And they can be produced in your own home for pennies to the dollar with craft store equipment!

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Fstoppers recommends using poster board as your sweep, held together with two pieces of foam and a metal clamp.

You can likely buy all of this for under $50, creating a small shooting studio that produces impressive pictures.

If you feel like switching up the background, you can simply tape new materials as your sweep instead of white poster board:

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These dynamic setups are cheap and easy to create, and they produce photos that look professional.

Combine this with your preferred lighting and your flexible tripod and smartphone setup, and you’ll be taking high-quality photos for almost no investment.

If you feel like buying the setup, Amazon sells high-quality backdrops that you can set up sweeps with:

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These cheap studios can be highly useful for larger products like furniture:

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Using the same technique of the sweep, you can clamp white posterboard paper to your system stand and take incredible product shots for cheap.

Now that you’ve mastered the basics of taking amazing product images for your online store, it’s time to optimize them for a better site experience and more organic traffic.

3 steps for optimizing your e-commerce images for organic search

Taking your e-commerce product shots is just the first step.

But optimizing them is a crucial piece of the pie that most often ignore.

But that’s dangerous because it can drastically impact your speed and organic traffic.

Follow these five steps, and your images will be optimized for search engines and real user experiences.

Step 1: Optimize for speed with compression tools

Speed is one of the most important aspects of keeping users around on your site.

According to a recent Google study, the majority of websites take at least eight seconds to load:

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The current best practice for load time is just three seconds, though.

Most websites are too slow and that causes massively high bounce rates that can impact your sales:

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Even just a few seconds can increase your bounce rate by over 100%.

And when you’ve worked hard to generate traffic, you literally can’t afford for them to leave without buying from you.

Especially if you are paying for the traffic using PPC ads.

Product images are often very high quality due to their high resolutions. This is wonderful for users to engage with, but also creates a slower site that can negatively impact the user experience.

It’s a double-edged sword.

BBC News found that consumers won’t wait more than three seconds for an e-commerce site to fully load its pages.

So, how do you reduce your image size without destroying the quality you worked so hard to achieve?

By using the right compression tools and file types. One of my favorite, simple tools is JPEGmini:

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Using this tool, you can reduce your file sizes by a ton without dramatically decreasing your quality.

This example above showcases a 6.5x reduction in file size with comparable quality.

Test a bunch of different products like this and find a software that you love.

Always run your product images through a compressor before uploading to your store to preserve your site speed and keep users coming back for more.

Step 2: Keyword optimize your file names and alt text

When taking dozens of product photos, it’s tempting to leave their file names alone.

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But Google crawls your alt text and image names to pull data on relevancy for search engines.

Without this data, Google has no idea what your image contains because Google doesn’t scan images, they scan your metadata.

For instance, if you are uploading a new e-commerce product image of your necklace, you would want to give that necklace the product name as its file name:

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That product should be named: “Tiffany Love Lock Necklace.”

It’s simple yet perfectly describes what the product is.

After giving your photos clear and proper file names, you should always edit the alternative text of your images.

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According to Moz, “Alt tags provide better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly.”

They are critical for sending the right data and signals to Google and should be present on every single image you upload to your site.

Here is a code sample of what alt text looks like in your source code:

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Alt text helps both with accessibility for users who can’t see and image SEO.

So, how do you write them? What do you include or exclude? What about keywords?

The trap that most people fall into with alt text is keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing should always be avoided. Don’t simply spam keywords into your alt text to describe your image.

The key with alt text is genuinely describing what is contained in your image and why it’s on the page.

For instance, if you are showing a product picture of a briefcase you sell, your alt text could look like this: “man holding brown leather briefcase in office.”

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This both describes the picture, the product and the function of it.

Step 3: Continually A/B test your photos

Image optimization requires continual testing and interactions of your photos.

Unfortunately, we can’t just set and forget photos and expect them to drive interest forever.

Consumer behavior shifts. People change. Opinions are always advancing.

Testing is the name of the game for e-commerce product shots. If you notice that your product isn’t selling despite having tons of relevant traffic, it could be that your images aren’t producing enough desire.

For example, one company found that its photos were struggling to do just that. They weren’t selling despite being high quality.

To combat this, they introduced user-generated content:

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By adding photos from real users of the product, they increased sales by 23%.

Why? Social proof and creating more trust by showing the actual product used by real customers.

This is a tactic that Amazon nails on every single product. Scrolling to the reviews section, you can see photos from verified buyers:

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These photos help to build trust and provide you another way to include photos of your products.

Try asking people in your follow-up emails if they can send pictures of the product or reviews to enhance your product pages.

Need some ideas for A/B testing your product shots? Here are a few to try out in your next test:

  • Try testing your product shots in different lighting: natural vs. artificial
  • Test how many product shots you offer to see if you include too many or too little
  • Test your product shots: are they showcasing your brand favorably or are they simply shots that people skip over to see the next?

Try recording live-user behavior or click reporting tools that can help you analyze what elements people love and which ones they ignore.

This can be great as they allow you to find what works and what doesn’t, meaning you only have to test once to realize that specific product shots, angles, and lighting aren’t working.

Conclusion

E-commerce is a growing industry that is on pace to dominate shopping.

But currently, people still love to shop in stores.

According to eMarketer, in almost every industry people love to shop in-store.

Why?

Because they can touch, feel and experience the product before throwing down money.

And that’s the one flaw of e-commerce: you can’t test before you buy. You roll the dice and hope it fits or hope the product looks good.

And if it doesn’t, you are met with a hassle unlike any other: returning and re-shipping your order until it works.

To combat this fear and improve your e-commerce conversions, focus on producing better images that convey more value and help users make decisions.

This can be anything from showcasing your product in use or using 360-degree photos and videos.

Showcase every usage scenario that you can think of to blow past roadblocks and remove hesitancy from the process.

Take the best product shots you can, and always be sure to SEO optimize them for speed and organic search.

E-commerce product photos are critical to success.

What are some of the best e-commerce product photos you’ve seen before that influenced your buying decisions?

The post The Ultimate Guide to Taking and Optimizing Ecommerce Product Images appeared first on Neil Patel.



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4 Vital Elements of an Appealing Offer


If you’ve got something to sell, at some point you’re going to need to present an offer. In other words, you’ll need to tell your prospective customer: What you’ve got What it’s going to do for them What you’re looking for in return Sounds simple, and it is. There’s just one problem. Too often, we
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The post 4 Vital Elements of an Appealing Offer appeared first on Copyblogger.



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