The Definitive Guide to Running an SEO Website Audit


seo website audit

You know when you spend time and money working on your site to get it where you want it, but you’re still not seeing the traffic that you want?

Or when you’re always left wondering why your competitors have higher Google rankings than you do?

The answer to your troubles is an SEO website audit. SEO audits can boost your site’s search engine rankings to attract more revenue, leads, and visitors.

Not sure where to start? Check out this definitive guide to running an SEO website audit to find out.

But first, we need to go over what an SEO audit is, exactly.

What is an SEO audit, anyway?

You can think of an SEO Audit as an evaluation of a website that grades the site for its ability to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Audits are completed by checking each step on your audit list and finding any issues that need to be repaired or improved to boost your page’s search engine performance.

Think of it as a report card for your site’s “Googleability.” Your site might be wonderful, well-designed, and clean.

But if search engines can’t read your website, the pages you put hard work into may not ever see the light of day.

You can easily find your SEO score with an SEO checker.

pasted image 0 314

But that’s not going to give you the insight that a full SEO audit can provide.

A full audit gives you an actionable plan that helps to:

  1. Compare yourself to competitors and use your findings to your advantage.
  2. Identify what changes need to be made (and how to change them).
  3. Get a general overview of the SEO efficiency of your site.
  4. Uncover your website’s weaknesses and fix them.
  5. Set some expectations for your website’s future.

You may not be able to improve every finding on your SEO audit all at once, but you can work on several factors over a period of time.

Here are the factors you should focus on during your SEO audit.

Factors to focus on in your audit

Before you can make any changes, you need a strategy that will work. There’s truly no limit to the things that you can improve with an SEO audit.

You can analyze keywords, improve technical aspects of your site, and more.

However, when people decide to run an SEO audit, they usually only care about one thing: improving rankings.

Everybody wants to be number one.

pasted image 0 296

But getting to number one means focusing on a combination of several complex factors that all contribute to SEO in some way.

Before we dive into the specifics, you’ll want to boost technical SEO first.

Boost technical SEO first

There are tons of things that you can check in your SEO audit with little-to-no effort if you get your hands on the right tools.

One of the most useful is Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

pasted image 0 270

For a quick site check-up, this tool is all you need. Even the free version allows you to run tons of helpful checks.

To get started, run some quick Panda and Penguin checks.

Do some quick Panda & Penguin checks.

Panda and Penguin are algorithm updates created by Google. The goal of these algorithms is to serve higher-quality websites within SERPs.

Panda focuses on content and banners, while Penguin analyzes whether or not the links on your website are natural, logical links.

To do a quick check for Panda in your SEO audit, step back from your screen and take a good look at your website. Do you see a ton of banners?

Is your latest promotion or sale taking up every inch of the screen and covering up your content? Make sure there’s a balance. You don’t need to have five banners above the fold.

To do a Penguin check, use Majestic’s SEO tool to quickly check out your backlinks and find out if any questionable websites are linking back to your brand.

Screen Shot 2018 01 04 at 5.34.58 PM

If there are, go ahead and disavow those sites in your Google Search Console.

pasted image 0 302

You can find more information on both Panda and Penguin here. Updates to these algorithms are ongoing and ever-changing.

Next, check out your page titles and beef them up a bit.

Improve page titles.

Page titles should hone in on a specific topic and contain some kind of branded phrase at the end, like a short website slogan or your site’s name.

Focus on checking and changing page titles by scanning them in Screaming Frog, like this:

pasted image 0 279

Check this area for any missing page titles or duplicates. Add in “page title branding” where you can, which is as easy as adding your company name or your brand name to title pages.

Read more on page titles and branding here.

You’ll also need some high-quality meta descriptions.

Create good meta descriptions.

A meta description is a searcher’s invitation to your website.

A short, sweet, yet detailed meta description will attract more people to your site from search engine pages.

This is where you need to hook readers in so they’ll click over.

pasted image 0 299

You can view and change all meta descriptions in Screaming Frog SEO Spider under the “Meta Description” tab.

pasted image 0 308

Once you’re there, you can tell if any of your meta descriptions are duplicates pretty quickly. Most pages need to have a unique description, since every page is different.

The next step is to check out canonical URLs.

Don’t forget canonical URLs.

The canonical URL is the URL that lets Google (and you) know what the source of any given page is.

You can view canonical URLs by checking out the “Canonical Link Element 1” tab.

canonicals 600x167

Check for any pages that are missing canonical URLs and find out whether the canonical URLs match up with the regular URLs for your pages.

Next you can use Screaming Frog to perform a complete crawl of your website. Here’s how.

Perform a site crawl to identify issues

Crawling your website gives you a bird’s eye view of any problems that might be lurking in the shadows.

For example, you may have set a few pages to “noindex,” which means that search engines can’t crawl your page.

That means you’re losing the opportunity to rank for that page (or any keywords you’ve put on it). You can’t build organic traffic to a page that you set to “noindex.”

A site crawl can help you find those pages.

There are also a few different page errors that you need to look out for.

For example, 404 errors occur when your page is ranking for a search term even though it doesn’t exist anymore due to a deletion or changed URL.

pasted image 0 316

500 errors, on the other hand, are due to internal issues (usually a web server).

pasted image 0 324

Screaming Frog can show you the status of your web pages, but it can also show the data of various SEO factors that might be hurting your rankings.

If you don’t want to use Screaming Frog, try Netpeak Spider. It’s a very similar tool at a lower price point.

pasted image 0 294

After you’ve crawled your site, you need to focus on improving user experience (UX).

Improve user experience (UX)

Search engines are getting smarter and smarter. They are now reading user signals to recommend sites with good UX.

Therefore, if your UX is bad, your SEO and rankings will be too. The good news is that there are countless ways you can improve UX.

Look for the low-hanging fruit first. What are some obvious improvements that can make your site easier to navigate and view?

Colors, for one.

Colors

Do the colors on your site match your brand, or are they randomly selected?

Make sure that the colors on your website follow a certain color scheme so that readers can pay attention to content above all else.

Here’s how I execute a polished color scheme on my site:

Neil Patel Helping You Succeed Through Online Marketing

Headings should stand out, and links should be easily identifiable.

You should also add some images and video where you can.

Use of images and videos

Images and video can help to set a mood, present a product or service, or send visitors to certain areas of your pages.

Make sure to add enough images and video where it’s necessary, but maintain a nice balance between text and photos.

Here’s how I do it:

pasted image 0 265

Focus on keeping relevant information above your website’s fold, too.

Keep important information above the fold

Good design boosts engagement. But you should always focus on the parts of your web pages that users see first.

On every page, make sure to keep your call-to-action (CTA) and message above the fold. If you’ve got a primary CTA below the fold, you might as well not have one at all.

pasted image 0 291

This is especially true on your homepage, which is the main hub of your site that directs people to other sections.

Adding some social proof won’t hurt, either.

Add reassurance to web pages

Social proof and testimonials are an easy way to create great UX on your site.

They reassure visitors about how great your brand and products really are. Here’s how Freshbook is using social proof to reassure visitors:

pasted image 0 282

Bottom line: social proof makes buyers feel safe trusting your company.

Next, check your DNS settings.

Check your DNS settings

Checking DNS settings involves making sure that bots aren’t getting any errors when they crawl your site.

The easiest way to do this is by using Google Search Console. If you’re not already connected to it, you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s free.

Here’s how to use it to check DNS settings.

  1. Log into Google Search Console.
  2. Check the “Current Status” area of your dashboard.
  3. If you see a green checkmark, your DNS is good to go.

pasted image 0 311

You can also perform a free test with a tool like Pingdom.

pasted image 0 285

Just enter your domain name to get started. The site will either give you an all-clear signal or a breakdown of any issues that need repairing.

Are your web pages mobile-friendly? If not, they need to be. ASAP.

Make sure your pages are mobile-friendly

Mobilegeddon has caused webmasters and marketers alike to rush to create seamless mobile versions of their websites.

And the mobile rush is only going to get worse. By 2021, 52.3 million Internet users will browse by mobile only.

pasted image 0 322

Since more people are using mobile devices to access the web, it makes sense to improve mobile UX.

To see just how well your site is designed for mobile users, run your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Once you enter your URL, the tool will tell you whether or not your site is mobile-friendly.

pasted image 0 275

You can also see how your site looks across several different devices.

The backbone of any good SEO strategy is good content, so you need to integrate a content SEO strategy, too.

Integrate a content SEO strategy

Your content should be able to answer any questions that a searcher might ask Google.

Auditing your content can be tough because you will have to look at the quality of your work along with the best on-page factors.

That means that you need to doublecheck grammatical errors, quick. Grammarly can check your pages for grammatical mistakes so that you can easily correct your content.

And when you write content on WordPress, be sure to install Yoast SEO. This plugin allows you to see just how optimized your work is for your target keywords.

pasted image 0 305

Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider (again) to find content you can lengthen. Search for articles with a word count that is less than 300 words.

pasted image 0 267

Next, do some basic keyword research.

Do some keyword research

When you have uncovered a main keyword for your site, check to see if there are any related keywords that you can use.

If you want to deep-dive into keyword research, please check out my guide on how to dominate keyword research in just 30 minutes per day.

Luckily, there are free tools available for this, like KWFinder. With this tool, you can find the search volume, CPC cost, PPC competition, and keyword difficulty for every suggestion.

pasted image 0 319

Once you’ve identified related keywords to use, you need to fix your site structure.

Fix your site structure

If your site structure doesn’t make sense, users will be lost. And so will Google.

Make sure that your menu includes any and all main pages from your site. It’s also a good idea to add these to the footer menu and homepage.

You should also include a sitemap that explains the site structure.

Think of your website as a pyramid. Your main articles should be supported by other pages that target certain keywords.

The structure should look something like this:

pasted image 0 274

Site structure won’t do you much good if your site speed and load times are slow, though, because people will click off before they ever see your content.

Check site speed and improve load time

Over 25% of visitors will leave your website if it takes longer than four seconds to load.

To keep visitors from bouncing off your site, you’ve got to make sure it loads as fast as possible.

A great tool to help you determine your site speed is Pingdom’s Website Speed Test.

The tool gives a performance grade for your site, along with load-time stats.

pasted image 0 277

The tool also provides actions that you can take to boost speeds.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights feature is also useful for analyzing the mobile speeds of your site, which are usually different than regular browsing speeds.

pasted image 0 288

There are tons of things that can slow down a site, but here are a few of the most obvious ones to watch out for:

  • A high code-to-text ratio: too much code can increase load speeds.
  • Page size: pages larger than 1.5 MB usually take much longer to load.
  • Script issues:  be sure to delete code that your developer deems as unnecessary.
  • Caching: caching should be installed and actively used to cache as many page elements as possible.
  • Image file size: if an image takes up more than 75% of an entire page’s file size, compress it.

You can also improve search rankings by using a secure HTTPS URL.

Improve search rankings with a secure HTTPS URL

Google (and every search engine, for that matter) loves secure websites.

To boost SEO, you need to make sure that your site is secure. The best way to secure a site is with an https:// URL rather than an http:// URL.

The “s” is what sets your site apart from any insecure ones. In Google Chrome, a “secure” tag should show up in the URL bar on an HTTPS site.

pasted image 0 272

Finally, you need to do an HTML validation check.

Do a free HTML validation check

It’s a no-brainer to perform an HTML validation check on your site. Checkups are free, and they ensure that all of the HTML coding on your site is correct.

Head to the World Wide Web Consortium to get started.

Screen Shot 2018 01 04 at 6.19.58 PM

Enter your address to check for errors. The tool will then generate a report.

Share the report with your web developer to make corrections to your pages. Address “Fatal Errors” first.

Conclusion

If your site is where you want it but you’re not seeing the traffic or search rankings that your competitors have, you need to run an SEO website audit.

An SEO audit checks for site errors and helps you uncover what needs to be fixed on your web pages to boost your search engine visibility.

You should boost technical SEO first by doing Panda and Penguin checks. Use the Screaming Frog Spider SEO tool to improve page titles, meta descriptions, and more.

Then, use the tool to run a full site crawl that examines every page of your website. From there, focus on improving user experience and the overall design of your site.

Check your DNS settings to ensure that site crawlers aren’t getting any errors when they look at your site.

Optimize pages to be mobile-friendly because mobile users make up a huge chunk of all browsers and searchers.

Integrate a strong content SEO strategy to get the most out of your writing. Do some keyword research to take things to the next level.

Fix your site structure by organizing it like a pyramid. Then, check your site speed and make changes to improve load times so that users aren’t bouncing off.

Finally, boost search rankings by making sure that your site has an HTTPS URL rather than a plain old HTTP URL. Then, perform a free HTML validation check to find any code errors.

What factor do you monitor the closest to boost your website’s SEO performance?

The post The Definitive Guide to Running an SEO Website Audit appeared first on Neil Patel.



Source link

How to Write an Actionable Email Newsletter


Every business needs an email marketing strategy.

You constantly need to try to grow your subscriber list so you can engage more and more customers.

But what kind of content should you be sending to the people on your email list?

Currently, you may be focusing on coupons and other promotions.

That’s great.

But you can take your email marketing strategy one step further by adding newsletters to your arsenal.

Some of you may already be emailing newsletters to your subscribers.

However, if you’re not writing actionable newsletters, these messages could be doing more harm than good.

Subscribers want to hear from you. That’s why they joined your list.

But they don’t want spam, nonsense, or anything else that wastes their time.

If you’re sending newsletters just because you haven’t contacted your subscribers in a while, it’s not an effective strategy.

Fortunately for you, I’m an expert in this space.

Whether you’ve never sent a newsletter or need help improving your current approach, I can show you how to write newsletters that convert.

It’s all about eliciting specific actions from the recipient.

Here’s what you need to know.

Make sure you’re emailing subscribers who actually want to hear from you

People won’t open your messages if they didn’t sign up for your emails.

That’s why I recommend creating a double opt-in process for new subscribers.

Take a look at how this affects your open rates:

image1 6

You might have a huge list of subscribers.

But that doesn’t mean anything if they’re not reading your content.

Getting your subscribers to open your message is the first step.

That’s why you need to seed your lists with people genuinely interested in your brand.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend buying subscribers.

Only contact those people who signed up for your newsletter.

How often have you received an unwanted email from a company?

For argument’s sake, let’s pretend this message doesn’t go to your spam folder and you actually open it.

Maybe you’ll even skim through some of the content, which is even more of a stretch if you’re not a subscriber.

Are you going to follow through with whatever action they’re asking you to complete?

I doubt it.

Well, then you can’t expect recipients of your newsletter to follow your instructions if they never opted in to receive it in the first place.

Give your subscribers options when they are signing up.

Here’s a great example from HubSpot:

image8 4

HubSpot lets their subscribers decide whether they want to receive messages on a daily or weekly basis.

If customers want to hear from you every day, give them what they want.

These people are more engaged with your brand and will be more likely to act in response to your newsletter.

Start with a clear goal in mind

Why are you sending a newsletter?

You should be able to answer this question for each message you send.

With coupons or promotional campaigns, this question is a little bit easier to answer.

But newsletters usually have an underlying message within the content.

Stick to one goal per newsletter.

Including too much information in your message will confuse the reader.

Here are some popular examples of actionable goals:

  • getting downloads
  • selling something
  • driving traffic to a landing page
  • promoting an event
  • subscribers sharing content with friends or family

Here’s a great newsletter from General Assembly:

image6 5

Right off the bat, it’s clear what the goal of this message is.

They are trying to promote an event in Boston, MA.

The newsletter shows the date of the event and has an option for the recipient to RSVP.

This goal is consistent throughout the entire newsletter.

General Assembly doesn’t try to promote products, get downloads, or drive traffic to their website.

Instead, they continue providing more information about the event.

image3 5

It’s an effective newsletter.

The message won’t confuse the reader, and the goal is apparent throughout the entire message.

In this case, the action is clear.

They want subscribers to come to their event.

It was successful because they started with a goal.

Don’t overlook the subject line

I see people make this mistake all the time.

They take their time to write awesome content for their newsletter, but then come up with a subject line in 2 seconds.

It ends up being something boring like:

  • June Newsletter
  • Weekly Update
  • A Message From Company XYZ

Boring.

Nobody is going to open that.

As I said before when I talked about only emailing subscribers who want to hear from you, the newsletter is useless if the message doesn’t get opened.

A strong and actionable subject line is arguably more important than the content within your message.

This data shows just how important email subject lines really are:

image9 4

Based on this information, your newsletter might even get marked as spam before the recipient has a chance to read it.

Come up with a subject line that generates curiosity.

Hint at a topic or question that may get answered if the message gets opened.

Including information about news or recent topics in the subject line is another great way to generate opens for your newsletter.

Make sure your timing is spot on.

Nobody wants to hear about news that broke last week.

About 40% of Americans get their news from online platforms.

If your subject line is highly relevant to something current, your subscribers will want to open it.

Be personal

Approach your newsletters the same way you approach promotional messages in terms of personalization.

Continuing with my last point, you can even use this tactic in the subject line.

In fact, personalized subject lines increase open rates by 50%.

Clearly, it’s an effective approach.

image2 6

But don’t stop at the subject line.

You can personalize your newsletter by addressing the recipient by their first name.

Use the first person perspective when writing so your subscribers know exactly from whom the message is.

Your personal email address should be displayed in the sender’s field.

Always sign newsletters with your name.

It will give the message a personalized touch.

But remember, you’re trying to get the recipient to act, e.g., to click.

Recent data shows that personalized newsletters improve both click-through and conversion rates.

image4 5

Another way to get more engagement through personalized content is by segmenting your email lists.

Not every recipient should get the same newsletter.

As you saw with the HubSpot example earlier, you can segment lists based on delivery frequency.

But you can take this idea one step further and segment the content as well.

For example, let’s say you have a website that sells sporting goods.

Your newsletter could cover various topics based on different sports.

When a subscriber opts in to receive your newsletter, you can have them select which sports they want to hear about.

That way, your newsletters that cover golf or swimming topics won’t get sent to someone who would rather read about snowboarding and mountain biking.

Your subscribers are much more likely to act if they’re interested in the content.

Have a clear call to action (CTA)

Your CTA should align with the goal you set for your newsletter.

If you want subscribers to download something, make sure the CTA directs them accordingly.

Refer back to the example I used earlier with the General Assembly newsletter.

They were promoting an event. Their CTA was a link through which subscribers could RSVP to that event.

Here’s another great example from Litmus:

image5 6

This newsletter is promoting an email checklist guide.

Rather than including the checklist within the content, they embedded a downloadable link as the CTA.

Be professional

Just like everything else associated with your name and brand, your newsletters need to be professional.

It’s OK to write in a conversational tone, but I recommend staying away from slang and profanity.

In some circumstances, it could be acceptable, depending on the image of your company. But it’s definitely safer to avoid this approach.

You also need to check your newsletter for spelling and grammar mistakes and typos.

If your newsletter has lots of errors, your subscribers won’t think you care about your company.

Don’t rush through this procedure.

Have an editing process.

You can even run newsletters through an editing software like Grammarly to assist you with this.

Here’s another editing tip.

After I’m done writing something, I read it out loud.

I find it’s easier to catch mistakes or poorly written sentences when I’m speaking as opposed to reading.

Depending on who writes your newsletter, you could even have the content checked by another set of eyes before it gets sent out to your subscribers.

Tell a story

I’ve said before you can increase sales by mastering the art of storytelling.

Apply those storytelling skills to your newsletter.

Stories are a great marketing tactic because they are a source of entertainment.

Nobody wants to read a boring newsletter, so talk about something exciting.

Look at the positive impact storytelling has on conversion rates for B2B and B2C companies:

image7 5

What kind of story should you tell?

Get creative.

You can tell your own or someone else’s story.

It all depends on your goal and the tone of your newsletter.

As I said earlier, you want your content to be relevant to your subscribers’ needs or current times.

If you have some sort of breaking news to discuss, write an engaging story instead of just stating facts.

This will captivate your audience and increase the chances of eliciting the desired response from them.

Conclusion

Newsletters are a great way for any company to engage and connect with their customers.

For starters, make sure you’re only contacting people who want to hear from you.

But if your message doesn’t have a purpose, your recipients won’t respond in a way you would like them to.

That’s why for every newsletter, set a clear goal before you start writing.

This will keep you on track so the rest of your content, including the CTA, focuses on this goal.

Nobody will read your message if they don’t open it.

Your subject line is just as important as the rest of your newsletter.

Your newsletter should be personalized based on the topic and delivery frequency.

Make sure your newsletter doesn’t have any spelling or grammar issues. It’s OK if you want to be conversational, but keep it professional.

Stories are one of my favorite ways to capture the attention of an audience.

Follow these tips, and you will increase the rate of desired responses from your newsletter subscribers.

How often do you send newsletters to the people on your email lists?





Source link

A ‘Big Blog’ Strategy Anyone Can Use for More (and Better) Traffic


Do you get all the traffic you’d like for your site? Do visitors just keep pouring in, letting you meet all of your business goals with ease? Yeah, don’t worry, no one actually says Yes to that question. Getting new people to your site can be tricky, and changes in Google and Facebook algorithms don’t
Read More…

The post A ‘Big Blog’ Strategy Anyone Can Use for More (and Better) Traffic appeared first on Copyblogger.



Source link

Here Are the Top Marketing Design Trends for 2018 [Infographic]

Shutterstock — a familiar name to many creative professionals — released its 2018 Creative Trends Report today, shedding light on the design trends marketers need to know about this year.

The report is the result of synthesizing and analyzing the billions of searches for visual content on Shutterstock’s collection — which boasts over 170 million images. Based on those searches, Shutterstock determined which design concepts are most likely to influence creative marketing and design this year, from pop culture to emerging trends.

This is the seventh year Shutterstock has released a Creative Trends Report, and this year, there’s a common, underlying science-fiction-esque theme — at least when it comes to the top three trends, named to be “fantasy,” “new minimalism,” and “space.”

Intrigued? Check out the full report, which — how fitting — has been visually represented by the infographic below.


1. Fantasy

Unicorns — the mythical creatures, not the high-valued startups — are cool again. Along with its friends like mermaids and centaurs, fantasy-themed images are predicted to see a rise in popularity. 

2. New Minimalism

It’s not just any minimalism — it’s the clean, circu-linear kind that uses white space to draw greater attention to an image’s boldest features.

3. Space

Elon Musk, is that you? We’re not sure if SpaceX is behind it, but images pertaining to the solar system and beyond are expected to be a major trend this year.

4. Natural Luxury

Less screen, more green. Images with natural elements are on the rise — with a touch of “geological”-themed luxury, like marble.

5. Punchy Pastels

Spring has arrived early, with pastel hues and shades dominating 2018 design trends.

6. A Global March

The legacy of last January’s Women’s March lives on — searches for terms like “activism” and key occasions like “International Women’s Day” are on the rise.

7. Cactus

Honestly, your guess is as good as ours on this one. As Shutterstock describes it, this trend reflects “nature’s ultimate survivor” with “beauty and danger.”

8. Digital Crafts

It’s the latest generation of origami. Is a robot capable of crafting? Inquiring, visual minds want to know.

9. Ancient Geometrics

You might be familiar with the Mandala, which is an ancient, geometric symbol frequently associated with Hinduism and Buddhism. There’s been an uptick in searches for that type of image — a trend we expect to continue as many seek these zen-like images.

10. Cryptocurrency

We’re not at all surprised to see this one on the list. Cryptocurrency has been a major point for those in both tech and finance in recent months, with such headlines as bitcoin debuting on Wall Street and Kodak unveiling its very own cryptocurrency (which resulted in its stock price skyrocketing in an impressively short period of time).

11. Holographic Foil

Tech has been gradually permeating the mainstream and pop-cultural conversation, and that’s arguably never been truer than it has been in 2018. Holographics have long served as thematic, visual representation of tech — which is what we predict helped it earn a place on the list.

Shutterstock — a familiar name to many creative professionals — released its 2018 Creative Trends Report today, shedding light on the design trends marketers need to know about this year.

The report is the result of synthesizing and analyzing the billions of searches for visual content on Shutterstock’s collection — which boasts over 170 million images. Based on those searches, Shutterstock determined which design concepts are most likely to influence creative marketing and design this year, from pop culture to emerging trends.

This is the seventh year Shutterstock has released a Creative Trends Report, and this year, there’s a common, underlying science-fiction-esque theme — at least when it comes to the top three trends, named to be “fantasy,” “new minimalism,” and “space.”

Intrigued? Check out the full report, which — how fitting — has been visually represented by the infographic below.


1. Fantasy

Unicorns — the mythical creatures, not the high-valued startups — are cool again. Along with its friends like mermaids and centaurs, fantasy-themed images are predicted to see a rise in popularity. 

2. New Minimalism

It’s not just any minimalism — it’s the clean, circu-linear kind that uses white space to draw greater attention to an image’s boldest features.

3. Space

Elon Musk, is that you? We’re not sure if SpaceX is behind it, but images pertaining to the solar system and beyond are expected to be a major trend this year.

4. Natural Luxury

Less screen, more green. Images with natural elements are on the rise — with a touch of “geological”-themed luxury, like marble.

5. Punchy Pastels

Spring has arrived early, with pastel hues and shades dominating 2018 design trends.

6. A Global March

The legacy of last January’s Women’s March lives on — searches for terms like “activism” and key occasions like “International Women’s Day” are on the rise.

7. Cactus

Honestly, your guess is as good as ours on this one. As Shutterstock describes it, this trend reflects “nature’s ultimate survivor” with “beauty and danger.”

8. Digital Crafts

It’s the latest generation of origami. Is a robot capable of crafting? Inquiring, visual minds want to know.

9. Ancient Geometrics

You might be familiar with the Mandala, which is an ancient, geometric symbol frequently associated with Hinduism and Buddhism. There’s been an uptick in searches for that type of image — a trend we expect to continue as many seek these zen-like images.

10. Cryptocurrency

We’re not at all surprised to see this one on the list. Cryptocurrency has been a major point for those in both tech and finance in recent months, with such headlines as bitcoin debuting on Wall Street and Kodak unveiling its very own cryptocurrency (which resulted in its stock price skyrocketing in an impressively short period of time).

11. Holographic Foil

Tech has been gradually permeating the mainstream and pop-cultural conversation, and that’s arguably never been truer than it has been in 2018. Holographics have long served as thematic, visual representation of tech — which is what we predict helped it earn a place on the list.

YouTube Just Made It Harder to Monetize Videos: Here’s Why

YouTube announced yesterday that it has modified the eligibility requirements for its Partner Program (YPP), which will change the ways and ability Creators can monetize their content on the platform.

Here’s what we know so far — and how marketers can prepare.

What YouTube’s New Partner Program Requirements Mean for Marketers

Changes to the YouTube Partner Program 

Beginning February 20 of this year — 30 days from now — Creators must have accrued 4,000 hours of watch time over the past year, in addition to 1,000 channel subscribers, the official statement explained. Compare that to previous eligibility requirements of only 10,000 lifetime views, as of last April.

Creators who do not currently meet those requirements have the next 30 days to reach those numbers. Otherwise, YouTube says, they will no longer be eligible for monetization, effective February 20.

However, even if Creators do meet that deadline, there doesn’t appear to be any guarantee that they will be eligible for YPP — rather, YouTube says, the only promise is that they’ll be “re-evaluated under strict criteria” to determine acceptance into the program.

Why YouTube Is Doing This

Last week, we reported on some changes to the Facebook News Feed that will make content from friends and family — as opposed to brands — more visible to users. That action, we predicted, was largely in response the scrutiny the network has received after being weaponized to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

YouTube, for its part, faced similar scrutiny in 2017 — its parent company, Google, is expected to appear before U.S. Congress today with specific, actionable information on how it plans to prevent such meddling and weaponization in the future.

That could explain the timing of this particular announcement, as stricter YouTube monetization requirements will likely play a role in Google’s overall content and guideline modification efforts.

However, YouTube also came under fire last month after one of its highest-earning creators, Logan Paul, posted graphic and offensive content to his channel. Since then, the channel has severed ties Paul has a preferred ad partner. 

What Marketers Can Do Now

YouTube, for its part, is downplaying the impact that these changes will have on Creators, at least when it comes to the loss of revenue.

According to the statement, 99% of Creators who do not meet the new requirements have, on average, earned less than $100 annually (over the past year).

And what income they have accrued prior to the February 20th deadline, YouTube says, they will still receive — based on Google’s AdSense policies.

YouTube has not made it clear, however, if Creators who reach these numbers after February 20th will still be eligible to apply for its partner program, though we will be keeping an eye on more specific information in its guidelines over the next few weeks.

Marcus Andrews, HubSpot’s senior product marketing manager, points out that with these new requirements, users will see far fewer ads on one-time viral videos from Creators who don’t otherwise meet the mandatory metrics. 

“The switch from a requirement of 10,000 lifetime views to 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year will surely stop monetization opportunities for a lot of legacy viral video creators,” he explains. “However, it will put more of a focus on people who are higher-quality content. Watch time is a much better signal of quality than views.”

So while accruing thousands of hours of views and subscribers within a 30-day period is no easy task, the same rule applies here as it would to build an audience on any social media channel: Create high-quality, personalized content that’s relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach.

Our comprehensive collection of tactical YouTube marketing content dives into these specifics, ranging from how to optimize videos for SEO and ranking, to how to run an ad campaign on the platform.

As always, feel free to reach out with your thoughts and questions on Twitter.

YouTube announced yesterday that it has modified the eligibility requirements for its Partner Program (YPP), which will change the ways and ability Creators can monetize their content on the platform.

Here’s what we know so far — and how marketers can prepare.

What YouTube’s New Partner Program Requirements Mean for Marketers

Changes to the YouTube Partner Program 

Beginning February 20 of this year — 30 days from now — Creators must have accrued 4,000 hours of watch time over the past year, in addition to 1,000 channel subscribers, the official statement explained. Compare that to previous eligibility requirements of only 10,000 lifetime views, as of last April.

Creators who do not currently meet those requirements have the next 30 days to reach those numbers. Otherwise, YouTube says, they will no longer be eligible for monetization, effective February 20.

However, even if Creators do meet that deadline, there doesn’t appear to be any guarantee that they will be eligible for YPP — rather, YouTube says, the only promise is that they’ll be “re-evaluated under strict criteria” to determine acceptance into the program.

Why YouTube Is Doing This

Last week, we reported on some changes to the Facebook News Feed that will make content from friends and family — as opposed to brands — more visible to users. That action, we predicted, was largely in response the scrutiny the network has received after being weaponized to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

YouTube, for its part, faced similar scrutiny in 2017 — its parent company, Google, is expected to appear before U.S. Congress today with specific, actionable information on how it plans to prevent such meddling and weaponization in the future.

That could explain the timing of this particular announcement, as stricter YouTube monetization requirements will likely play a role in Google’s overall content and guideline modification efforts.

However, YouTube also came under fire last month after one of its highest-earning creators, Logan Paul, posted graphic and offensive content to his channel. Since then, the channel has severed ties Paul has a preferred ad partner. 

What Marketers Can Do Now

YouTube, for its part, is downplaying the impact that these changes will have on Creators, at least when it comes to the loss of revenue.

According to the statement, 99% of Creators who do not meet the new requirements have, on average, earned less than $100 annually (over the past year).

And what income they have accrued prior to the February 20th deadline, YouTube says, they will still receive — based on Google’s AdSense policies.

YouTube has not made it clear, however, if Creators who reach these numbers after February 20th will still be eligible to apply for its partner program, though we will be keeping an eye on more specific information in its guidelines over the next few weeks.

Marcus Andrews, HubSpot’s senior product marketing manager, points out that with these new requirements, users will see far fewer ads on one-time viral videos from Creators who don’t otherwise meet the mandatory metrics. 

“The switch from a requirement of 10,000 lifetime views to 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year will surely stop monetization opportunities for a lot of legacy viral video creators,” he explains. “However, it will put more of a focus on people who are higher-quality content. Watch time is a much better signal of quality than views.”

So while accruing thousands of hours of views and subscribers within a 30-day period is no easy task, the same rule applies here as it would to build an audience on any social media channel: Create high-quality, personalized content that’s relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach.

Our comprehensive collection of tactical YouTube marketing content dives into these specifics, ranging from how to optimize videos for SEO and ranking, to how to run an ad campaign on the platform.

As always, feel free to reach out with your thoughts and questions on Twitter.