How to Create Magento URL Rewrites

URL rewrites are a great tool within your Magento admin panel (and server) for a non Magento Developers to use in order to take control of their site, help a site migration or just to move a few things around. But for custom rewrites it can be a little confusing. Here is a simple guide to Creating Custom Magento URL Rewrites:

    1. Find Magento URL Rewrite Management – by going to Catalog > Rewrite Management

    1. Select Add URL Rewrite
    2. Select the custom option from the drop down
    3. Now you are faced with a few options:

ID Path: Is the unique identifier for this rewrite. This should just be custom, but is only used for admin purposes.  You can use a phrase like “ProductX” or “CategoryX”.  It isn’t used except to uniquely identify the ID path in Magento.
Request Path: Is the URL you would like to redirect towards.  If I want google.com to forward to thedigitalpm.com; Google.com is my original request.
Target Path:Is the URL you would like the Request Path directed to.  Again I want google.com to go to thedigitalpm.com;  TheDigitalPM.com is my redirect.
Redirect: You always want this to be permanent as 302 (or temporary redirects) do not pass any of the link juice to the new URL.
Description: This is an optional description field. Use this to keep notes on what and why you set this URL redirect up

  1. Fill these fields out correctly
  2. Click Save– This should be the job done. Quickly try out your redirect to make sure it’s working correctly

That is how you create a custom Magento URL Rewrite

Top 5 Things Your Clients Expects From You (as a PM)

Do we know everything? No. Do we know everything about the project we are leading and about what we are supposed to be doing? We should! We aspire to, but there are likely a few things missing along the way. We learn as we go along. Do we know what our customer is always thinking? What they think about our performance or how we are managing them, the team and ourselves? No.

Well, I’m hopefully going to close that knowledge gap a little.

Here are my top five things that your project customer assumes, hopes or wishes you knew about them and the project you are leading for them.

You’re The Expert, Not Them

You are the skilled Business Analyst or consultant. You and the Project Manager are the individuals leading the team with the skill set needed to identify, design, and develop their solution. If they had that skill set or the time to do it, they wouldn’t need you.

Understand that you are the expert. The client knows that and wants you in that role. They may annoy you, demand things, they may even seem like they are getting in your way or trying to take over, but really, at the end of the day, they will be the most satisfied and confident if you are in control, take the lead, and direct them.

Money Is Very Important To Them

We all must answer to someone higher up with respect to budget, profit margin, and overall financial health of the work we are performing. It works the same way for the project sponsor.

The project customer cares about the money they are spending on the project, and they want to feel comfortable that you are spending it wisely. Therefore, they expect this to be reflected in any weekly status reporting and dashboard view in terms of actions, work progress, and often budget analysis.

They Have A Day Job

They want you to know that while the project is very important to them and may be an important part of their career, they also have a day job. Rarely is the project you are working on their only responsibility. After all, they shouldn’t have to do too much on the project because you and your team are the real experts, not them, right?

They have other tasks to perform, bosses to report to, and even teams to lead. So they might not always be available with the information or decisions you need.

Keep them engaged, give them time, and be patient. And take charge and make good decisions in their absence.

They Do Not Know How To Test Very Well

Your client may not like to say it, and they may not show it, but it is often the case that project customers do not know how to test very well. And they certainly won’t be experienced on this new solution you are planning to implement. Help them. Don’t do it for them – that would be a conflict of interest. But you can help them with test cases and test scenarios and hold their hand through the user acceptance testing (UAT) process.

You may find yourself and some individuals on your team spending more hours before and during UAT than you had in estimated in the budget, but it’s worth it, and you’ll know to include more hours in the schedule and estimate next time.

You Are Not Their Friend

Keep it professional, no matter how friendly or easy the communication becomes.  If you let it go too casual, you risk missing some information sharing along the way by assuming the other party may already know.

The customer may seem very comfortable with you, but you are still not their friend. They are paying for your services. Run professional meetings, continue professional conversation, and engage them like they are the project sponsor, not your friend from high school. And avoid the drinks at the bar with them after a big onsite meeting – it’s just not professional.

Summary / Call For Input

We do everything we can for our project customers. Lead their projects, manage the budget, engage them and try to keep them as focused and confident as possible throughout the project. But we can’t get inside their head, and they don’t tell us everything. If we could, though, these are things that I feel they would be thinking that we should know as far as what is driving their behavior and management of the process.

Remember, the Business Analysts, Project Managers and teams are the professionals hired to manage the projects. But in the end, it is the customer’s project, so keep them engaged and informed throughout. Have those periodic one-on-ones with the project sponsor to ensure that you know what they are expecting of you on each engagement and at every turn. Sometimes their expectations need to be reset, and that’s ok.

The key is never to stay out of touch with them for very long.

What about our readers? What do you think your project customers assume you know about them and the projects you plan and manage for them? What do you think they wish you realized as far as what’s important to them? What, from your experience in working with project customers and key stakeholders, would you add to this list or change about it? Please share and discuss.

Experts Share Their Best Tips for New Project Managers

We asked experienced project managers to divulge their #1 tip for newcomers to the field. Not surprisingly, these process fanatics shared a plethora of great tips to help newcomers succeed in this ever-changing area of work.

Read through their project management advice below, and see what you can learn as you walk into your first, second, or even tenth PM role.

“I think that all the important tips could be summarized with a metaphor:
You should be like an Orchestra Director for your team, with a detailed project plan as score.”
Jose Ignacio Bernaldo de Quiros Ochoa

Everyone Agrees — Excellent Communication is the #1 Indicator of Success

Understand the culture

Communication is key, and much of that will be informal, so building your network and understanding culture and dynamics are key.
Thomas J. Dickie, PMP

Be accessible to learn more

Always allow people to come to you. Be accessible and listen to what project team members will ask or comment all the time. The more you know, the better you are able to make decisions. Buy knowledge and sell solutions unless you want to pay for project deviations.
Fábio Issao Watanabe

Communicate to identify changes quickly

I think that success depends on communication and focus on the goal. Good communication with the team identifies deviations in a timely manner. Good communication with customers can quickly identify changes in scope.
Oscar Teran

Keep detailed project notes to share

Follow up on tasks and Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Keep detailed notes and make sure everyone on the team is aware of what is happening.
Monteau (Montee) Outlaw

Discuss challenges, roadblocks, & risks

Make sure to be transparent within your core and your extended project team, as well towards your managers, owner, sponsor. Communicate roadblocks, challenges, and risks clearly and in advance for everyone to see. Know and accept: no one cares for, or is as committed to your project as much, as you are/must be.
Janos Veres

Listen to opinions from everyone, even if you reject them later

Keep communication channels open for all stakeholders: the team, the sponsor, the customer, the end user, your boss, etc. I am not saying that you let yourself be manipulated by every party, just try to listen before making decisions. Hear every opinion, then make your route.
Mehmet Degirmencioglu

Respect every opinion as if it were your own

Train communication, create empathy with your stakeholders. Respect and value everybody’s opinions, even if you don’t completely agree.
João Rodrigues

Challenge ideas to make them better

You are hired to manage projects; your team is hired to be the technical expertise to deliver that project. Therefore, if they are telling you something, it’s usually a good idea to take in what they’re saying and, in some cases, challenge it. If you’re not technical, ask for clarification on points you genuinely don’t understand. That’s normally enough for technical teams to make them think through their explanations, so they’ll carry out an internal check to ensure their thinking is sound.
Andrew Hudson

Build rapport and trust with clients

Build rapport with the client. Build trust and then never lose it. Under promise and over deliver. Plan and communicate.
Marc Hammoud

Don’t Pretend You Know Everything on Day One

Always ask “that question”

You may not have the experience needed to do things 100% correct the first time, so keep it real and allow people to give you suggestions. My #1 suggestion to newbies is: Always ask “that question”. Finding a balance between asking questions or following up offline is a talent you will learn over time, but for now, don’t be shy. You might harm your own project by not speaking up until it becomes a show stopper near implementation time. Speak up and you will find your team is truly on your side!
John Skowronski, PMI-ACP, PMP

Don’t isolate your team with overconfidence

Do not think you know everything. I’ve seen too many project managers take a hard line and push things through because they think they know best. That breeds resentment in the project team. I’ve seen project managers exert their supposed technical or subject authority on a project, only for that project to ultimately remove those additions at a later and more expensive stage.
Andrew Hudson

Learn from every experience

You don’t have to know everything about everything — it’s ok to ask questions and learn from each experience.
Ann Lynne Dodson

To Be the Best, Hone Your Leadership & Management Skills

Make sure you motivate and lead your team

Soft skills are very important. The people involved make the difference between success and failure. You can have knowledge and methods, but you need skills to motivate and lead.
Maarten Verreck

Manage your people, not just your documentation

Following the PM process and keeping up with all the communication tools like the risk log, issue log, schedule, and deliverables should all take a back seat to leading your team. For years I prided myself in being really good at the documentation side of project management, but it never really mattered that much. The most important skill a project manager must master is Leadership!
Larry Sparkman

Build a bridge for two-way trust

Trust is the biggest thing for me, because if I don’t trust my technical team then I’m inherently suspicious of them and vice versa. Building a relationship of trust, and therefore openness, is crucial if you are to deliver multiple successful projects.
Andrew Hudson

Stay flexible to take on every challenge

Keep your knowledge constantly updated, trying to develop new capabilities and remaining flexible in terms of project management methodologies to use, etc. Things can change very rapidly in this field, and as the leader of your team, flexibility and a listening ear are most important to manage the risks and change.
Nirmal Singh

Delegate wisely and lead by example

Learn what you can delegate. Learn who you can delegate to. Lead by example. Work harder than anyone else. Treat everyone you touch with respect and kindness.
Lori Galster

Train your people to be future leaders

It should always be remembered that delegation is not purely about sharing workload. Also it gives the team member a sense of ownership and liability and allows them to learn… Today’s team member can be tomorrow’s PM.
Andy Nelson, AMBCS, P2 Cert Practitioner

Think outside the box

The key for successful PM is communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. Working smarter and offering solutions. Thinking outside the box and strategically looking at the bigger picture.
Kassim Toorawa

Protect your team

You “Protect” the project team, they do the rest.
Onur Karabulut

And don’t forget to proactively celebrate success!

The most important part: celebrate with your team who made it possible!
Puneet Gulati, MSP, PMP, ITIL v3

Be the Person Who Keeps Work Organized & Meetings Focused

Use templates to stay organized

Try to stay as organized as you can, use templates and other tools provided by PMI (you can find them on PMI’s website).
Bhawna Mundotia, PMP

Document! Document! Document!

Always keep a track record of the work being done.
Pietro Cecere

Step up and capture ideas during meetings

If you are in a meeting that needs focus because people are talking in circles, step up to the white board or large note pad and start scribing their ideas, requirements, comments, issues, etc. — preferably into actionable categories. Do not speak! Just scribe. If they start to focus on what you are writing, then you can ask them if they want to identify owners for each actionable item.
Jerry B. Fisher

Learn What Inspires Your New Team, Then Achieve Success Together

Know the working culture before you introduce change

First understand the work/culture/situation, and then make your moves/changes. PMs always want to do something new and different based on their experiences, which is a good thing, but do it smartly. You can’t just jump in and start making changes to the system without understanding it; every company has their own limitations, constraints, and culture. Make changes in such a way that they get absorbed in the right attitude.
Santosh Maurya

Understand everyone’s motivations

Learn that project management can be as much about politics as handling projects. Remember that not everyone working on the project is actually for the project. Learn the motivations and intentions of not just your team, but also upwards to the stakeholders and business users.
Andy Nelson, AMBCS, P2 Cert Practitioner

Build a culture of sharing and innovation to build a strong team

Foster a culture where everyone’s ideas are heard to allow more innovation to take place. The added bonus is that the project team itself becomes a lot stronger — team members are far more open to suggesting and working through ideas if they know they’ll be heard, rather than thinking they’ll be shouted down all the time.
Andrew Hudson

Know the Limitations of Your Project Team — And Yourself

Don’t forget the human

The methodologies are great if well-used, but they won’t work if you do not remember that you are working with other people. Human responses are not always logical or predictable.
Tiago Prado

Know your team’s strengths

Understand the skill set & mind set of the people that you’re going to handle in your team.
Prabhu M

Leave egos behind

Be aware of strengths and limitations in your team and, more importantly, yourself. There is no room for egos.
Louie Turcotte, Jr

Find what sets you apart

Determine your specialization and go for it. The best thing you can do is to decide what sets you apart and make that shine. Remember you are turning concepts into realities and it takes creativity to get you there. Develop thick skin and never fall in love with your first draft, no matter what it is.
James L Thompson, PMP, CSM, Executive MBA, ITIL

Ask Questions to Understand Current Processes, & Keep Them Simple

Ask follow-up questions

When someone makes a suggestion, I like to follow up with background questions: When and under what circumstances have you implemented that in the past? Why was that approach successful? What made it more efficient, cost effective, etc.? Then I broaden my scope of understanding.
Lori Galster

Don’t make mountains out of molehills

DON’T make a huge mind-numbing deal out of the project. Newbies are generally so eager to implement their knowledge or are so psyched up about being in the shoes of a PM, they generally end up overcomplicating simple things. I have seen “accidental” project managers perform better than those who come to the job armed with the whole pedigree of PM tools, techniques, and strategies. It’s better to keep work simple and streamlined so that attention can be devoted to planning, actual implementation, and overall scope and quality control, instead of waiting for the heavens to open up and rain down!
Trina Moitra

Make progress the priority

Do not always look at things from a process perspective. Governance is important, but when it impedes progress then there is an issue.
Dave Regan

Clarify Everyone’s Roles & Responsibilities on Every Project

Understand your own role first

Clearly understand your role and responsibilities and your delegated authority. This will depend on the type of organization you’re operating under. Also understand your key stakeholders and their level of influence.
Kassim Toorawa

Analyze project heartbeats daily

I suggest accidental managers follow the RACI model and analyze project heartbeats daily.

R- Who is Responsible to do the work 
A- Who is Accountable for final decisions and ultimate ownership 
C- Who is Consulted before a decision or action is taken 
I- Who is Informed that the decision or action has been taken

The RACI model is helpful to define/identify/clarify roles and responsibilities. Once you have those, match them up with processes. It’s especially useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in cross-functional processes. For example, an organization may have a person who performs the role of project manager, and may also perform the role of test manager.
Hambirrao Patil

Beware of role creep

Watch for ROLE creep, which is similar to scope creep in a project. In role creep, your role as a PM might be under constant pressure — from academics, LinkedIn groups, co-workers, and especially those working above you. This is because there are so many forces at work around a substantial project, especially in a non-projectized organization where there is no discipline to comply with standardized and repeatable project management processes. There will be pressure to be innovative, be creative, and be an agent of change, and you will have managers asking you to list all your accomplishments. Your ultimate role is always to deliver what is in the WBS and project plan, use a designated process for scope change, risk monitoring, and issue management, and maintain good communication.
Michael Ayres MS, PMP, CISSP, CSEP

Make Sure You Have a Full Understanding of the Project Objectives, Assets, & Risks

Know the project inside out

Understand the project — so the planning, objectives, results that the project wants to achieve, and of course know the monitoring plan: what are the indicators, its tools, etc.
Marta Acero

Set the goals first

Establish the goal and objectives (SMART) of your new project. Once this is done well, I would immediately do the PESTEL analysis and build the SWOT analysis. Then, it’s planning, communication, and organization. For your project setup plan, you can also use the What, When, Who, Which, Where, etc. model.
Osvaldo Mirante, PhD

Understand the project needs

Having a clear understanding of both the functional and technical definition/needs of the project upfront, with stakeholder buy-in, is extremely important.
Muqtader MBA

Make sure the project achieves its original goal

Focus on specified project objectives!
Muqtader MBA

Control the project scope

Knowing your exact scope of work very well is the key to controlling the rest.
Mohammad Hamdan, PMPⓇ

Think about what can outside forces could affect your project — positively or negatively

Look for organizational process assets that are available to you. Identify the environmental factors that will influence your projects and how they’ll be delivered.
Thomas J. Dickie, PMP

Make work actionable

Make sure everything is actionable and responsibilities are assigned and transparent.
Henriette Ebbesen Laidlaw

Allow time for multiple iterations

Plan and drive project activities according to strategic guidelines. Allow the project team a few iterations over viable and plausibly valid alternative solutions. Never be afraid to ask the project owner for clarification or adjustment of target, timeline, resources, or scope.
Janos Veres

Don’t forget to manage potential risks

You need to understand the organization’s culture to make a roadmap and deliver projects on time and within budget. You should also keep an eye on risks arising during the course of project implementation, with a risk mitigation plan in place.
Puneet Gulati, MSP, PMP, ITIL v3

Get Buy-In From Stakeholders Early & Manage Their Expectations Along the Way

Identify every stakeholder

Identify all stakeholders and develop terms of references. This will align all roles of different individuals in the project and make it easier to relate with them.
Lesiba Noah Konaite

Sell the project to all necessary parties

Involve as many as possible stakeholders at the beginning of a project to gain broader buy-in.
Andries Venter, Inclusive Project Manager

Hold 1-on-1 project feedback sessions

Before kicking off the project, connect with all the key stakeholders in 1-on-1 sessions to get their input on the project, their goals, their level of support, etc. This will uncover hidden “gotchas” and misalignment that may come up later if you don’t do this.
Tom Treanor

Make stakeholders believe in the goal, not just the budget

Getting stakeholder buy-in on the outcome and benefit of completing the project is more important than stakeholder acceptance of the scope, schedule, and budget. If decision-makers believe in what the project will achieve, they will be more likely to accept changes to the scope and tolerances if you can show that it will lead to a better outcome. If all you’ve sold is a budget and a delivery date, you’re doomed to failure.
Chris Cox

Continually manage expectations as the project goes on

Manage the stakeholders’ expectations within given limits. That would encompass all the necessary requirements such as deliverables, scope, etc.
John Mpungu

Don’t Be Afraid of Failure, Learn From It

Fail fast, recover faster

Failure is an option. Fail fast so you can recover quickly and learn.
Sreekumar Govindan

Turn mistakes into learning opportunities

Don’t be afraid of mistakes — learn from them. They are the building blocks for future success in this challenging and dynamic profession!
Susan Kirkpatrick, PMP, CSSBB

Deliver what the business actually needs

A high percentage of projects fail because they don’t deliver what the business needs. Even when you have that nice 400-page requirements document that was signed off on, it does not mean everyone understands what is being delivered.
Thomas J. Dickie, PMP

Ultimate Success Comes From Careful Management, Not Just Careful Planning

Manage the problem, not just the Gantt chart

Reality drives the schedule, not the other way around. It’s not about wrangling Gantt charts, it’s about wrangling people and problems.
James Radvan

Plan to succeed & persevere

Every day there is a chance that you will have your back to the wall. Plan to succeed. Coordinate your priorities, delegate to those in your team, and make the project work.
Paul Alwood

Keep your eye on the overall objectives

No one on the business side cares about the Gantt chart or status reports or the PM deliverables. What they are looking for is the capabilities to achieve the business objectives your project will deliver.
Thomas J. Dickie, PMP

And Remember: Nothing Beats Hands-On Experience

You can’t fake experience

Experience is the most valued ingredient of the perfect PM brew, and that can either come with the salt and pepper of years or from a very competent mentor. There is no way to fake experience.
Trina Moitra

Expose yourself to real-life situations early on

Gain as much experience in project management as you can. Books, theory, and concepts are all fine, but real-life situations are much tougher. The more you face these situations, the smarter you become. There is no better way to learn project management than to expose yourself to real-life situations.
Mangal Pandya

Rely on your people skills, and push for the success at the end of the project

Don’t give up. A Project Manager position is not a rewarding job every day. You have to work really hard to get things done (especially in a Matrix environment), so you have to rely on your people skills a lot. (Keep those sharp!) In the end, you will persevere, and when the project finishes successfully, you will love that feeling of success.
Bhawna Mundotia, PMP

What Advice Can You Share?

Let’s keep the conversation going here! Share your advice and thoughts in the comments below. Tell us what you’d add to this list, or expand upon a piece of advice that really resonated with you.

*Note: Some of the above responses have been slightly modified for clarity, grammar, and length.

Character Count Guide For Blog Posts, Facebook Pages & Social Media

When it comes to writing posts and updating profiles for your blog and social media, one of the most common questions folks have is: What’s the character limit on X, Y, or Z? Another common one: What’s the ideal character count for X, Y, or Z?

For example, you probably know the character limit for a tweet is 140. But did you know that a link takes up 24 of those characters, leaving you with 116 characters to play with? Or that the ideal length of a tweet that includes a link is about 120 characters, not the full 140?

While we’ve written before about what perfect posts look like on your blog and various social media networks, we thought it would be helpful to gather the numbers for character limits and ideal character counts all in one place.

Below, you’ll find the short version, followed by a more detailed guide to character limits and ideal character counts for posts on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. The more detailed version includes links to research studies, our own findings at HubSpot, and advice for how to optimize your posts and profiles.

Length & Character Counts: The Short Version

Click a category title to jump to the detailed version.

1) Blog Posts

  • Ideal Headline Length: 8–12 words & under 70 characters.
  • Ideal Blog Post Length: 1,600 words or 7 minutes to read.
  • Ideal Title Tag Length: 70 characters or fewer.
  • Ideal Meta Description Length: 155 characters or fewer.

2) Facebook

  • Maximum length of a status update: 63,206 characters.
  • Ideal length of a status update: 40 characters.
  • Ideal length of a video: 30–45 seconds long.

3) Twitter

  • Tweet: 140 characters max.
  • Comment with a Retweet: 116 characters max.
  • Link in a Tweet: Takes up 24 characters (leaving 116).
  • Image/GIF/Video in a Tweet: Takes up 25 characters (leaving 115).
  • Link + Image/GIF/Video in a tweet: Takes up 47 characters (leaving 93).
  • Ideal Tweet Length: 100 characters without a link; 120 characters with a link.
  • Ideal Hashtag Length: Under 11 characters; shorter if you can. Use 1–2 hashtags per tweet.
  • Video Duration in a Tweet: Up to 30 seconds long.

4) LinkedIn

  • Professional Headline: 120 characters max.
  • Summary: 2,000 characters max.
  • Position Title: 100 characters max.
  • Status Update: 600 characters.

5) Instagram

  • Profile Bio: 150 characters max.
  • Image Caption: 2,200 characters max, but it cuts off in users’ feeds after 3 lines of text.

A More Detailed Guide to Character Counts

1) Blog Posts

  • Ideal Headline Length: 8–12 words & under 70 characters.
  • Ideal Blog Post Length: 1,600 words or 7 minutes to read.
  • Ideal Title Tag Length: 70 characters or fewer.
  • Ideal Meta Description Length: 155 characters or fewer.

Ideal Length of a Headline: 8–12 words and under 70 characters.

The length of your headline depends on what your goals are and where it will appear.

  • Do you want this post to rank really well in search? Then keep the title under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results, and put keywords near the front to make it more attractive in search results.
  • Are you trying to optimize your title for social sharing? For it to be tweetable, you won’t want to exceed 116 characters. (That’s the 140-character limit on Twitter, minus the 23 characters a URL takes up in a tweet, minus one for the space between the title and the link.)

In our own analysis at HubSpot, we found that headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average, while headlines with either 12 or 14 words got the most Facebook Likes.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Content Title Length

The folks at Outbrain found that headlines with eight words had a 21% higher clickthrough rate than the average title. We recommend testing out headline length to see what works best for your particular audience.

Ideal length of a Blog Post: 1,600 words or 7 minutes to read.

This may not be what you want to hear, but the best answer to the question of how long a blog post should be is: as long as it needs to be. Blog posts vary too greatly in topic, depth, and so on for there to be a single benchmark. It should be as long as it needs to be to serve its purpose, whether that’s thought leadership, driving leads, explaining a new concept, or something else.

That being said, if you want cold, hard numbers, there are a few ways to measure ideal blog post length.

Time to Read: The folks over at Medium measure article length based on how long it takes for a person to read the article. According to their analysis, the post length that captures the most attention on average were posts that took seven minutes to read, which works out to be about 1,600 words.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Post Length Graph

Image Credit: Medium

Word Count: Here at HubSpot, we recently analyzed the effect of blog post word count from our own blog on organic traffic and found that the sweet spot was 2,250–2,500 words.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Word Count

We also found articles over 2,500 words got the most social shares and earned the most inbound links.

You might be thinking: There’s a pretty big difference between 1,600 words and 2,250+ words. That’s because of the incredible variation in ideal length for a blog post. We recommend testing out blog post length to see what works best for your particular audience.

Ideal Length of a Title Tag: About 70 characters or fewer.

A title tag is the HTML title element that’s used to describe the topic of a webpage. You’ll find them in the title of a search engine result page (SERP), and in the top bar of an internet browser.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Title Google

A title tag should be about 70 characters or fewer in length so it doesn’t get cut off in a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page). This number can vary because Google seems to measure in pixels, not characters. In other words, it appears that they cut off a title tag after a certain width: about 512 pixels. Google will also bold certain keywords used in a search query, which can affect pixel width significantly. So at the end of the day, 70 characters is just a benchmark.

You can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo.

Ideal Length of a Meta Description: About 155 characters or fewer.

A meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given webpage. It’s the short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Meta description Google

Like with title tags, Google seems to cut off meta descriptions in SERPs based on pixel width, not character count. Specifically, it seems to cut off a given meta description after about 923 pixels, which ends up being about 155 characters. Again, you can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo. (Read this blog post to learn more about writing effective meta descriptions.)

2) Facebook

  • Maximum length of a status update: 63,206 characters.
  • Ideal length of a status update: 40 characters.
  • Ideal length of a video: Between 30–45 seconds.

Maximum Length of a Status Update: 63,206 characters.

Most people refer to Facebook’s character limit on status updates as 60,000 characters, but the actual maximum is 63,206. Why? Facebook’s Bob Baldwin, the man who set the limit, wrote in a Facebook comment: “I set the exact limit to something nerdy. Facebook … Face Boo K … hex(FACE) – K … 64206 – 1000 = 63206”. There you have it.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Facebook Status Length

Image Credit: Journalists on Facebook

Ideal Length of a Status Update: About 40 characters.

“The social gurus will throw around the number 40 characters,” says Chelsea Hunersen, HubSpot’s social media and community growth manager. “That data seems to be backed up by BuzzSumo’s ranking of HubSpot’s own Facebook Page, but ideally, you’ll want to use the copy in a status update to provide context for whatever you’re linking to.”

That being said, Hunersen says that from her experience, the copy of the status update itself isn’t as important as the copy in the meta title or meta description that gets pulled in when you insert a link into your post. “Often, people look at the image of the article and then directly down at the meta title and meta description for context clues,” she told me. “A lot of people don’t realize you can change those.”

(Meta titles should be 70 characters or fewer and meta descriptions should be 155 characters or fewer. You can read about these character counts in more detail in the previous section of this post.)

Ideal Length of a Video: Between 30–45 seconds.

While there aren’t too many studies out there on the ideal length of videos on Facebook, best practices for sharing videos on social are to keep it short: Just enough time to deliver a punch, but without forcing users to leave their environment.

According to AdWeek, Facebook’s auto-playback feature makes 30–45-second videos optimal. Here at HubSpot, we’ve found that our best-performing organic videos have come in at about 30 seconds long.

That being said, optimal length can vary depending on the topic. “If you produce something as catchy as BuzzFeed and Refinery29 are putting out there, it can be up to five minutes long,” says Hunersen.

Regardless of the length of your video, Hunersen reminds us that all Facebook videos start without sound, meaning users have to make a concious decision to stop scrolling through their feeds and unmute the video. Facebook videos should be visually compelling from the get-to, make sense without sound, and be engaging enough to encourage the user to stop and watch.

3) Twitter

  • Tweet: 140 characters max.
  • Comment with a Retweet: 116 characters max.
  • Link in a Tweet: Takes up 24 characters (leaving 116).
  • Image/GIF/Video in a Tweet: Takes up 25 characters (leaving 115).
  • Link + Image/GIF/Video in a tweet: Takes up 47 characters (leaving 93).
  • Ideal Tweet Length: 100 characters without a link; 120 characters with a link.
  • Ideal Hashtag Length: Under 11 characters; shorter if you can. Use 1–2 hashtags per tweet.
  • Video Duration in a Tweet: Up to 30 seconds long.

Max Length of a Tweet: 140 characters.

Max Length of a Comment with a Retweet: 116 characters.

When you use Twitter’s “Retweet with Comment” feature, it means you’ve pressed the rotating arrow icon to retweet a post, and then added a comment in the text box provided. The retweet takes up 24 characters, leaving you with 116 characters for the comment.

Link in a Tweet: Takes up 23 characters (leaving 117).

Links account for 92% of all user interaction with tweets, so you’ll definitely want to include them in most (if not all) of the tweets you publish. They’re your strongest chance of gaining views and shares for your content.

Also, remember to include a space between your tweet copy and your link. Not including a space before the link is one of the most common forms of link errors.

Image/GIF/Video in a Tweet: Takes up 24 characters (leaving 116).

Using media in your tweet is a great way to engage your followers. In fact, research shows using images in tweets leads to higher clickthrough rates — as much as 18%.

Images, GIFs, and videos take up the same number of characters in a tweet for Twitter.com and most publishing tools.

(Note: Different publishing tools may have different character counts for links and images. For example, Twitter.com counts an image as 24 characters, but Tweetdeck counts it as 25.)

Want to add more text to your tweets? One simple hack is to put text in an image, like in the tweet below. Here are some free templates to get you started. (The best ones for Twitter are in the Social Media > Rectangular folder.)

Link + Image in a Tweet: Takes up 47 characters total (leaving 93).

A link often takes up 23 characters and an image often takes up 24. That’s 47 characters total, leaving you with 93 characters to work with for the rest of the tweet — including that space between the tweet copy and the link.

(Again, note that different publishing tools may have slightly different character counts for links and images.)

Ideal Length of a Tweet: 100–110 characters without a link; 120–130 characters with a link.

The 120-130-character range is the sweet spot for high clickthrough rate, according to an analysis of 200,000 tweets with links. This leaves enough space for people to include a short comment if they choose to manually retweet you.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Tweet Length

Ideal Length of a Hashtag: Under 11 characters; shorter if you can.

While Twitter hashtags can technically be any length up to 140 characters, remember that people will want to accompany the hashtag with other copy. Short hashtags are always better. Ideally, your hashtags should be under 11 characters — shorter if you can.

Also, in a single tweet, stick to one or two hashtags, and definitely don’t go over three. Buddy Media found that tweets with hashtags get double the engagement metrics that tweets with no hashtags get — but tweets with one or two hashtags have a 21% higher engagement than tweets with three or more

Video Length in a Tweet: Up to 30 seconds long.

You can post a video on Twitter by importing a video or recording it using the Twitter app. Either way, the maximum length is 30 seconds.

4) LinkedIn

  • Professional Headline: 120 characters max.
  • Summary: 2,000 characters max.
  • Position Title: 100 characters max.
  • Status Update: 600 characters.

Maximum Length of a Professional Headline: 120 characters.

Your professional headline is the brief description about what you do that appears right below your name on LinkedIn.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - LinedIn Headline Length

Maximum Length of a LinkedIn Summary: 2,000 characters.

Maximum Length of a LinkedIn Position Title: 100 characters.

LinkedIn Position Description: Between 200–2,000 characters.

Maximum Length of a LinkedIn Status Update: 600 characters.

Keep in mind that if you update your Twitter status through LinkedIn, you’ll want to keep the character count to 140 characters or fewer.

5) Instagram

  • Profile Bio: 150 characters max.
  • Image Caption: 2,200 characters max, but it cuts off in users’ feeds after 3 lines of text.

Maximum Length of a Profile Bio: 150 characters.

Max Length of an Instagram Caption: 2,200 characters.

With a maximum of 2,200 characters, Instagram provides an enormous amount of space in their Instagram captions. But it’s worth noting that they recently started capping captions at three lines without users having to click “more” to see the whole thing, if they’re viewing the post in their general feed.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Instagram Caption Length

That being said, we don’t recommend keeping your captions super short so users can see 100% of it without having to click “more.” Instead, frontload your captions with the important content or text calls-to-action, and leave any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.

10 Types of Blog Posts Proven to Drive Sales

Use it correctly, and a blog can be an excellent source of both traffic and links. However, while I’d never discourage you from creating the sort of content that can boost your traffic and potentially bring in links that will help you to climb further up the search engine’s rankings, on their own, traffic and/or links are not going to make a difference to your bottom line.

On that note, I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re here because you want your blog to do more than bring in traffic – you want it to drive sales, too. Well, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to get your blog working harder for you. Stick with me while we look at 10 of them.

1. The how-to

The how-to blog post is generally (though not always) a step-by-step guide that takes readers through a particular process. The best ones are based around clear, easy-to-follow instructions, and include images or video that help to illustrate each step. They should also be easy to skim through, so readers can quickly find a particular instruction.

The how-to is an effective sales tool in part, because it’s easy to optimize. Questions which begin with “how to” are common search terms – so much so, that whole websites have been built around answering these types of queries. Write detailed, useful, optimized how-tos and you should start to reap the rewards of additional targeted traffic arriving on your site.

Of course, we know that traffic alone won’t make us money. Real results happen when we’re able to convert that traffic.

To do this you need to…

1. Choose your topics wisely

Answer questions that your target market is likely to have and likely to ask towards the middle of the sales funnel.

For instance, a key goal of neilpatel.com is to encourage people to reserve consultations with Neil himself. It comes as no surprise then, that he’s writing posts like this. Link good or bad

“How to Determine if a Link is Good or Bad” is exactly the sort of question people who would be interested in one-on-one marketing consultancy would be asking.

2. Hold back just enough information to leave your readers wanting more.

Sometimes (though not always) if you give your visitors all the answers, they won’t need you. The more complicated your industry, the less this rule applies – sometimes you can give people all the information, but they will still need your help to apply the knowledge effectively. Still, it helps to keep a small part of the puzzle unsolved, to keep your readers wanting (and needing) more.

Key takeaway: Write detailed, long-form blog posts that answer “how-to” questions and target potential customers from the middle of the sales funnel onwards.

2. The cheat sheet

Cheat sheets are similar to how-tos in that they provide your visitors with valuable information that should help them to complete a particular action or set of actions. The cheat sheet differs from the how-to in its execution: they’re more of a “quick reference” kind of guide than a step-by-step walk-through. They also lend themselves well to infographic-style images.

Think: Cheat sheet

And: typefaces

In contrast, the how-to is usually presented as a text-based article.

Like the how-to, cheat sheets drive sales because they bring in highly-qualified traffic. The trick is to create content that captures potential customers at the right point in the sales funnel. By all means, create cheat sheets that help existing customers get the most out of your product or service. Anything that helps your customers use you more effectively will increase customer loyalty and retention rates. However, if you want to drive new sales, you need to create cheat sheets that help assist those who are in need of something you sell – not those who already have what you sell. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Sorry for Marketing‘s Jay Acunzo’s specialism is guiding others on their content marketing. This cheat sheet fits the bill perfectly. It’s designed to help speed up the content editing process and is aimed at marketers who want to streamline and improve their content creation. Tier one

This cheat sheet on browsers that do or don’t support HTML5 targets consumers that are ready to – but probably haven’t yet started – design a new website. These are precisely the type of visitors that a company that offers web design and hosting services would want to capture. Browser support

Key takeaway: Create cheat sheets that act as quick reference guides to consumers who could benefit from your product or service. If you can get a designer involved to up their visual appeal, even better.

3. The checklist

Checklists are an excellent sales tool because they help readers identify missing components in an important equation. Imagine a store that sells products people buy before they go on vacation – a “packing checklist” would make a great piece of content for them. The checklist

In this context, a packing list could help drive sales because it would allow the store to link to relevant products from within the list and influence purchases from consumers who had forgotten they needed to buy x, y, or z.

A checklist can help drive sales in pretty much any industry. I see my fellow marketers use them all the time.

The brilliant Heidi Cohen rang in 2015 with a seriously-comprehensive marketing checklist.

Postplanner created a checklist to help ensure that marketers are getting the most out of social media.

Moz compiled a detailed site audit checklist (if you’re ever carrying out a site audit, you need to use this – it’s awesome).

In marketing, this type of content works because it can help a potential customer realize how much help they actually need. Maybe they hadn’t considered they needed to do x and y. Maybe they don’t know how to do y and z. Either way, it illustrates to visitors how much or how little they know and encourages them to pick up the phone and make that call.

Key takeaway: Create on-topic checklists that are designed to help potential customers realize what tools or knowledge they’re missing that your company can provide for them.

4. The comparison post

Comparison posts pit your product against one of your competitor’s, as we see here in this post where HubSpot compares their CMS with WordPress’s. Is this sneaky? Maybe a little, but we see this strategy used all the time, across the board – not just online, and certainly not only in blog posts.

Ever noticed a supermarket advertising how much cheaper they are than the competition? Comparison

That’s comparison marketing in action. The supermarket is selling their products to you by highlighting how much you can save when you shop with them, instead of the competition.

You might wonder how you can legally get away with stating how much better or cheaper you are than your competition, and I wouldn’t blame you. Naming your competitors in your own advertising and marketing strikes me as something that would land you on shaky ground, too, but it’s actually okay… most of the time, at least.

The law surrounding comparison marketing differs somewhat around the world. However, it generally comes down to this: as long as you’re truthful, it’s fine.

This means you have to be damn sure about any claims you make, and be sure to include a disclaimer that gives the date that the claim was found to be true, in case something changes down the road.

Key takeaway: Write comparison blog posts that explore how your product or service matches up to your competitors.’

5. The guest post from a brand advocate (think extended testimonial)

If you’re a regular here, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of guest posting and that I regularly welcome guest authors to this blog. I do this to:

Diversify the voices on the blog
Build relationships with the people who write for the blog
Drive new audiences to the blog
Alleviate some of the pressure on me to keep the blog updated, all of the time
However… there’s another way you can leverage inviting a guest author to contribute to your blog – by asking a brand advocate to write for you.

Brand advocates are those people that love your brand so much that they regularly shout about it, and are willing to go out of their way to do so.

If you can track these advocates down, you should take the opportunity to speak to them about how you might be able to work together. This could entail getting them to write, or even film, a testimonial for you. It might mean asking them to mention your brand in some of their social media posts.

Alternatively, it could mean asking them to write you a guest post.

“Walmart Moms” is an excellent example of a brand that leverages their advocates. Walmart

The Walmart Moms are a group of Walmart advocates that have been selected to speak out on behalf of the brand because of how they embody the average Walmart customer.

The “chosen” moms (who are, I assume, paid) write blog posts for Walmart that offer advice and touch on their own experiences, while also linking to Walmart products and additional articles. Take a look at Linsey Knerl’s post “Growing from baby to toddler” to see what I mean.

It’s worth bearing in mind that, as mentioned above, you may have to compensate your advocates for their time. Asking them to write a short review is one thing; asking them to craft a 500+ word blog post is quite different. This effort should be rewarded, if not with cold hard cash, then with some sort of freebie or special benefit.

Key takeaway: Invite a brand advocate to write a guest post for you in which they talk about the merits of your brand or your products or services (just be prepared to reward them for their time).

6. The case study

A case study dives deep into a particular “case” in order to demonstrate the potential and effectiveness of a certain product or service. A case study is an excellent sales tool because rather than simply saying to a customer, “Use our product and you can achieve x, y, and z,” you use real-world examples to show them exactly how your product or service is going to accomplish x, y, and z.

It’s understandable then, that they’re a popular sales tool – the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Prof’s 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report found that of all of the tactics B2B marketers use, 58% percent of those surveyed said they found case studies to be effective. This graph shows the case study as the 5th most-effective B2B marketing tactic. Effectiveness ratings

Neil Patel regularly writes case studies. In this one, he details the processes used to help earn Timothy Sykes an extra $1.2 million a year: Timothy Sikes

Here he shows how he grew Gawker’s traffic by 5 million visitors: Gawker media

Putting an alternative spin on things, in this post, Neil actually writes a case study about case studies. Its purpose is to demonstrate how case studies can be used to generate more leads and sales.

In short: Case studies work. Although publishing case studies didn’t have a huge effect on the number of leads Neil was generating, they clearly helped his leads convert: He saw his sales increase by an impressive 185%.

Key takeaway: Hone in on a particular example of how your product or service helped a customer achieve a goal by writing a case study.

7. The wake-up call

The “wake-up call” is geared toward shocking your visitors into the realization that they’re doing something wrong, or at the very least, could be doing something better. The idea is that this scares your visitors into action – that action ideally being to purchase your product or start using your service.

It’s a common strategy used by digital marketers and SEOs. There are still a lot of shady companies out there and in-house practitioners who know less than they think they do. Consequently, it’s not difficult to “shock” companies into action. You just need to help them realize that their own online efforts, or the efforts of the people they employ to improve the performance of their site, are not up to snuff.

Take this post by Kissmetrics that explores how to determine whether or not your SEO company is in fact hurting, rather than helping, you. Or this article from BlogPress, which looks at 7 things you might be getting wrong when trying to write click-worthy headlines. This post from New State Films is another great example of this strategy: It explores five things you might be getting wrong when promoting your brand through video.

The key here is to avoid getting into a slanging match, or making yourself look petty. Be the bigger company and use a “wake-up call” post to not only show how others are getting something wrong, but to demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge, and resources to do it better.

Key takeaway: Write a blog post that details what your potential customers might be doing wrong and how their mistakes could be affecting them.

8. The unique-findings post

Make a bold statement online, and you should be prepared to back it up with evidence. Why? Because it lends credibility to your argument. As stated in Lifehacker, “Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. If you want someone to rally to your cause, support your position, or put you in a position of authority, you need to be able to back up your position and sway others from theirs.” (See what I did there?) Unique findings

However… sometimes you might have a theory or want to make a statement that can’t be proven with existing evidence. Alternatively, you might question or distrust the information that’s already available.

When that situation materializes, what’s the logical solution? To carry out your own research, of course. Especially when the information you hope to find has the potential to help drive sales.

Want to see what I mean?

Here’s a post in which Marie Haynes, author of “Unnatural Links: The Complete Guide to Recovery” uses first-hand data to demonstrate why removing thin content can help site owners recover from a Panda penalty. Panda recovery

This is the ideal topic for capturing visitors that have been hit by a Google penalty, and consequently, may be interested in purchasing her book.

In this excellent piece from Moz search scientist Russ Jones, we see Russ perform his own research to figure out what makes content from the little guys (i.e. sites that don’t have a huge domain authority) rank.

This sort of content has the potential to drive visitors to Moz’s Content tool, but it’s also a pretty neat plug for the content services offered by the post’s guest contributors – Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting and Garrett French of Citation Labs.

Key takeaway: Perform your own research and use it as evidence to help drive home why potential customers could benefit from your product or service.

9. The expert roundup post

An expert roundup is a post based around quotes from industry experts.

Sometimes a roundup post is formed almost entirely of quotes from experts, with nothing more than a short intro from the actual author. Take a look at this post on Small Business Ideas Blog to see what I mean.

Sometimes the expert’s quotes will provide the framework for the article, with the author adding their own commentary and filling in the blanks. I wrote a post back in July that should show how this works.

Bloggers love them because, with a bit of luck and/or the right connections, they’re really easy to create, they can be super-valuable to readers, and they make the author look good. Quote

Most importantly however, they provide the opportunity to tap into new, big, and engaged audiences. How? Most of the time, the experts who have contributed to the post will share it. This can potentially cause a domino effect whereby the post goes viral.

I recently spoke to Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard and the topic of conversation quickly turned to roundup posts. Turns out he’s a big fan. He said he’s done “a few expert roundups over the years, always got a decent amount of shares from it and traffic has been huge.” Then… he published this. Within a few days, it had been shared about 2000 times and had about 5000 views. Not f*in bad.

He told me he did this by:

Tweeting the influencers mentioned
Mentioning the influencers in a Google Plus post
Sending individual emails to each influencer to let them know the post was live and to thank them for taking part
But he didn’t stop there. In Adam’s words, “I then got in touch with Niall at TweakYourBiz.com about repurposing it as an infographic and publishing on TYB, so it would be a unique infographic for them.”

The resulting infographic (which you can see here) has had more than 32,000 visitors and been shared more than 2000 times.

Of course, we know by now that while traffic and shares are pretty damn awesome things to get, they’re not sales. But they do provide the chance to make more sales.

So how do you get them?

Choosing the right topic is key. It should be heavily aligned with what you do and should encourage visitors to want to take action. If you offer pay-per-click management services, you probably wouldn’t want to ask experts to comment on growth hacking. But if you can get them to talk about the biggest mistakes they’ve seen companies make with their PPC campaigns, you might be onto something.

Key takeaway: Ask experts to contribute to a roundup post with their answer to a question that is intrinsically linked to why someone might use your product or service.

10. The reverse psychology post

When we use reverse psychology on somebody, we are getting them to do what we want by asking them to do the opposite. It doesn’t work on everybody all of the time, but when it does work, it’s because the person fears their control is being taken away from them. In other words: They don’t like being told what to do. Reverse psychology

It’s particularly effective on children and teenagers. Ever tried telling a child not to play with a certain toy? Chances are, they grabbed it the moment your back was turned. Even more concerning, research has shown that warning labels on violent TV programs actually encourage young viewers to tune in.

But this doesn’t mean adults are immune to the effects of reverse psychology. In an experiment led by psychologist Daniel Wegner, participants were told not to think about a white bear. Over the next 5 minutes participants were asked to think aloud, saying everything that came to mind. If they thought, or spoke, about a white bear, they had to ring a bell. Participants were ringing that bell every minute. More interestingly, when the 5 minutes were over, those who had been told not to think about a white bear were thinking about a white bear twice as often as those who had been told to think about it. You can read a little more about this experiment over on Business Insider.

This research should mean it comes as no surprise that reverse psychology is a tactic commonly used in advertising and marketing.

Do you remember Little Caesars “Do Not Call” ad? It explicitly told customers not to call, and was accompanied by a clear instruction for visitors not to enter their address on their website. Little Caesars

How about Patagonia, who ran a full page ad in The New York Times instructing people not to buy a jacket? Patagonia

Or Oakwood School’s celebrity-packed donation drive, which asked people not to give?

I think you get the point! But while we’re on the subject, whatever you do, do not share this post. (Cheers iMediaConnection for rounding up the above examples).

Key takeaway: Write a blog post that’s based around telling your visitors to do the exact opposite of what you want them to do. The trick is to be clear it’s tongue-in-cheek. You’ll tempt your visitors into doing exactly what you want them to do, without inadvertently making them think poorly of you or your product or service.

Finish Line

That’s it for today. Do you know of any other types of blog posts that drive sales? Or have you tried any of these out and are able to fill us in on the results you saw? Comments are below… you know what to do!

3 Tips for Last Minute Holiday Strategies

Remember retailers and eCommerce manager, it is not too late! Cyber Monday is quickly approaching and it is either an online retailer’s new best friend or worst nightmare. Why? It’s that one day out of the entire year where online retail is in the spotlight on the mainstage and has to perform. Sink or swim.

As all retailers know, there is a ton of prep that goes into Cyber Monday from staffing and logistics, to technology and merchandising. So instead of providing a list of the 850 things that you need to make decisions on and execute for a successful Cyber Monday, I am going to skip ahead and just give you three simple things to look at once you are ready(ish) to go.

1. Keep it simple, stupid

Simple sales. That’s right. DO NOT MAKE COMPLICATED PROMOTIONS. This means no fancy coupons, different discounting on different items, or extensive rules. You need to be remembered quickly and easily for what you are offering. Why? Your goal should be that anyone who sees even one ad can rattle off your Cyber Monday promotion, therefore you make the list of sites to visit on that frantic day.

Cyber Monday is not a browsing holiday. People shop with a plan to get the things on their list, and you want to make that list. The best way to do this is to keep your offers clear, simple and memorable. Once you get someone on your site, then you can start the other offers and the add-ons.

Here are some great examples of doing this well:

2. Leak your deals

Why is Black Friday and Cyber Monday such a thing? Some people might say it is tradition, or just a stir-crazy way to get out of holiday family time. The one thing that is not in question is that it is a “holiday” created by hype.

So with that said, do not promote your deals too early. You need a “leaking” strategy. This could be done by emailing your customers with a sneak peak, viral videos, or more traditional ways. You can also have outsiders “leak” it for you as the big box stores do by sending their ads two days before to well-known Cyber Monday and Black Friday websites.

Get creative, think outside the box.

3. Rake them in and then what? Set Up Automatic Retention Marketing

So Cyber Monday is all about acquisition. Getting new folks in the door and making their first purchase. That is why you see many places marking their TVs down even sometimes to a loss, just to get people in and then “hopefully” keep them coming back.

Tracking and setting up retention programs are extremely important for this time of year. Integrating your eCommerce customer data with software like Windsor Circle will enable you to track purchases that take place during these heavy acquisition times. Then you can automate retention programs that are relevant to the individual customer’s preferences directly through your email marketing provider. This gives retailers the ability to get the most out of the holiday traffic and make up margins on heavily discounted Cyber Sale products by offering related accessories, similar products and automatic replenishment.

It is not too late to get this up and running, we can show you here. If you cannot fathom getting this done before Cyber Monday, many of the programs can be implemented using past data so you get them working for you even after the holiday rush.   Focus on your customers, and you can re-market later.

To wrap up, there is no shortage of things to do and manage this time of year for retailers. Instead of giving you a huge list, this just sheds some light on three key things that can help take some of the stress out of the season. Good luck and happy selling!

10 Team Motivation Killers

It happens to everyone: sitting at your desk, you realize that you lack any motivation whatsoever to get any work done. Good luck being productive when this motivation slump hits hardcore, infecting your entire office.

The only long-term fix for a lack of motivation is to find the motivation killers in your workplace and eradicate them. Whether it is an awful office space, a micromanaging boss or a lack of clear goals, getting to the source of the problem can boost productivity for your entire team. Learn about the top 10 motivation killers and how to banish them from your office. Then, make the fixes and get back to work.

10 TEAM MOTIVATION KILLERS - Infographic

How To Stay on Google’s Good Side (Infographic)

In the event that the words “Google Algorithm Update” don’t strike dread into your heart, than the way you earn a living must not be in the digital or eCommerce industry.  If that is the case, I want to know why you are here and what you do?  But that’s beside the point.  Every time Google releases another algorithm update your business has to evolve and change.  If you aren’t quick to change your practices and follow suit, and by that I mean update your content to Google’s new requirements, you run the risk of Google’s penalizing your digital marketing efforts.

Stay away from the ensuing headache by following these tips collected by the team at Quick Sprout.  The main shift is the shift towards a more organic experience for end-users and ability to be a trusted website on the internet.  Some quick top level things to remember: keep guest posting to a minimum, focus on relevance (and honest information), make sure your site is well designed (preferably responsive), and build trust.  All of this is to say Google doesn’t purposefully make these updates to hurt your business, in fact it’s to help with improvements online and make the internet a more trustworthy and easy to use place.

How to stay on Googles good side - infographic

SEO Guide To Keyword Research For Beginners

In case you are new to the universe of ecommerce or digital marketing in general, you’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO). In our current reality where the lion’s share of online traffic stems from a string of text typed into a search box, search engine optimization can be the main factor in the fate of your business.

SEO incorporates numerous strategies yet the underlying principal is that you’re helping Google and internet search engines better understand what your ecommerce website is about and what it offers (fyi, it can be a static website too, it doesn’t have to sell anything). This consequently builds visibility by increasing the chance search engines will list your site in the search results when potential customers are looking for the products you sell.

The largest bucket of time spent in/on SEO is keyword research. Keyword research is the simple art of better understanding the terminology your potential customers are using to find the products you’re selling, then matching your website and marketing terminology.

In this article we’ll cover the basics of keyword research for ecommerce. The ultimate goal is to build a relevant list of keywords that you can refer back to and use as you build and optimize your site, write your product descriptions and craft your blog posts.

Over time, you’ll help search engines better understand what your site is about so they can better match your store as a result for relevant search terms, leading in increased traffic and sales.

Why Keyword Research Is Important

Every time someone does a search, the search engine must decide which handful of results to display from hundreds of thousands of possible pages. It’s up to the search engine algorithms to determine the best and most relevant matches for every single search. This is why it’s so important to choose your keywords carefully, so that the search engines can match and display your site in the search results to the most relevant keywords searches.

Not only is it important to rank on the first page of a search engine results page for relevant search terms, but it’s equally important to rank in the top positions of the first page. To understand how big of difference position can make consider the graph below which shows search result position and average traffic share:

From the graph we learn that the first page of search results receives over 90% of the traffic share and the first three search results receive over 60% of the traffic. Most significantly, the difference between position ten (first page) and position 11 (second page) means a decrease in traffic from that particular search term by over 100%.

In short, the closer you are to the top of Google for relevant search terms the more traffic (and potential sales) you’ll receive. Depending on the search term and the volume of searches per month being made for that search term, the difference in just a few positions can represent significant revenue loss in the long term.

Understanding Keywords

Before you jump into doing keyword research for your online store, there are a few basic terms you’ll come across that are important to know and understand.

These terms include:

Keywords – A keyword(s), in the context of search engine optimization, is a particular word or phrase describing the content of a web page or site. Keywords act as shortcuts to sum up the content of a page or site. Keywords are part of a web page’s metadata that helps search engines match a page to an appropriate search query.

Longtail Keywords – Longtail keywords are simply keywords that contain three or more words. Longtail keywords are important (hence them having their own name) because they make up over 70% of online searches according to SEOMoz and also tend to convert better as they catch people further along in the buying cycle. Someone searching for “hair extensions” is likely in the early information gathering stage, however, someone searching for “20 inch brown hair extensions price” is likely further along the buying cycle and much closer to purchasing.

Search Volume (Avg. Monthly Searches) – Search volume is usually measured in average monthly searches. This is the total number of searches each month for each particular search phrase (keyword). Ideally you’re looking for the keywords with the highest search volume. Ranking highly for search terms with higher search volumes means more potential traffic and conversion potential for you and your store.

Unfortunately, there is not a magic number that represents the perfect search volume for everyone. What constitutes the “right” search volume is going to be different for every site.

Competition – Search volume isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Competition is equally, if not more important. There’s no point in trying to rank for keywords you have no chance of ranking for. Competition refers to the difficulty of ranking for each particular keyword. In an ideal situation, your chosen keywords would have high search volume and low competition, however, these gold nuggets are difficult to find and will require some hard work, patience and maybe a little luck to find.

Keep in mind that the competition in Google’s Keyword Planner Tool refers to paid advertising competitiveness of keywords rather than organic search competition, however, this is many times representative of the organic search competition as well.

Brainstorming Your Initial List

Now that you understand why keyword research is important and some of the basic terminology, it’s time to do your own keyword research. To begin, you’ll need to brainstorm an initial list of search terms you believe your customers would search for to find your shop and the products you sell. Just grab a pen and paper and begin making a list of search terms you would use. At a minimum your brainstormed list of each keyword should be two words but you’ll want to think of longtail keywords as well, up to four to five words or even more.

The more words you brainstorm upfront, the more you’ll have to work with to uncover new search terms so don’t give up too easily. Try to build a list with as many relevant keywords as possible.

You may want to ask friends and family for their input as well but avoid asking them directly what they would search for and try to get them in front of a computer and ask them to search for your brand/products. Monitor what they search for and the links they click. This can provide some great, real-world insight into what an average person would search for.

Tools To Expand Your List

After you’ve done some initial brainstorming, you can consider a few tools to help expand your list. One of the simplest tools is Google’s own suggestion feature. To see some of Google’s suggestions, simply do a Google search and scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the related suggestions.

A great tool for help with your brainstorming is Keywordtool.io. Keywordtool scrapes Google for Google suggestion keywords by taking your keyword and adding every letter of the alphabet from A to Z capturing the most frequently searched permutations.

Don’t forget to consider keyword modifiers like “how to” or “where can I” etc. For example, someone may not be looking necessarily for “hair extensions” rather they may be looking for “how to get fuller, longer hair”.

Keyword Research Using The Google Keyword Planner Tool

Now that you have your initial list of brainstormed keywords, you can use these keywords to find more keywords using tools online. There are many tools you can use to conduct your keyword research, paid and free, however, one of the most popular tools for conducting keyword research is Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. The Google Keyword Planner Tool allows you to search for keywords to determine how many searches per month are being made for that term, how much competition there is competing for it and the related search terms.

The related search terms are important because it’s going to expose you to other keywords that are similar but may have a greater number of searches, less competition or a combination of both.

To use the Google Keyword Planner Tool, you’ll need a Google Adwords account which is free and only take a few minutes to get set up.

Once you have a Google Adwords account you’ll need to login to your account and select Tools from the menu at the top, and then select Keyword Planner.

On the next screen, click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.

Next, enter the keywords you’ve brainstormed from the previous section, either one at a time or a few at a time by separating each with a comma. We would recommend starting with one at a time to keep things simple.

Double check your settings under Targeting to make sure you’re viewing search information that is relevant to you. For example, if you’re based and ship to USA and Canada, you should be looking at information results for the USA and Canada.

Under Customize your search and Keyword options, you should turn on Only show ideas closely related to my search terms. This will provide much more relevant keywords, however, if you feel the keywords are too closely related or you wish you expand your search, feel free to try a search with this option turned off.

On the next screen, it will default to the Ad Group Ideas tab. Change that to the tab labelled Keyword Ideas.

The first column will list the original keyword(s) you searched for as well as closely related keywords. The second column shows you the number of searches being performed each month in the geographic area you specified. The third column is the level of competition for each keyword.

It is this information you’ll now need to begin sifting through to begin building your keyword list. You can use the Keyword filters on the lefthand side of the screen to only show low and medium competition keywords and filter out the ones that would likely be too difficult to compete for.

This will leave you with a list of keywords related to your original search that have a low and medium level of competition. As an example, we have colour coded one such query below, the yellow highlighted keywords being medium competition and the green highlighted keywords being low.

With this list you’ll want to take the best terms that describe your site, pages and product offering, keeping in mind the search volume and competition, and record them, ideally in a spreadsheet. You’ll want to repeat this process for all the brainstormed keywords you came up with.

Refining Your List And Checking It Twice

Now that you’ve come up with a list of relevant keywords it’s time you double check your work. You may have got a little carried away and added in some keywords that were low competition, or high search volume but don’t accurately describe your store and offering. In this phase you’re going to look at each of your keywords and:

Ask yourself – Is the keyword relevant? If someone searches for that term and lands on an appropriate page on your site, will they find exactly what they are looking for?

Search for the keywords in Google and Bing – You’ve already looked at the competition strength in Google Keyword Planner but as mentioned prior, those levels represent paid search competition, which doesn’t always translate over to organic search. Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. If the top results are for major and well established brands, it’s going to be more difficult to rank highly for your keyword.

Will all the keyword information you have gathered, you’ll now want to really boil your list down. To start, you’ll really want to focus on a handful of keywords (5-7) but it’s a good idea to keep a bit of a broader list (15-20) to keep your options open and work on long term.

Conclusion

The good news is that after completing your keyword research and slowly implementing your chosen keywords throughout your site, Google should have a better understanding of what your online store is all about so it can better match you to the correct searches.

Keep in mind though that SEO and keyword research is an ongoing process. It takes time and patience to research and implement your keywords and more time for Google to pick up on these changes. Most importantly, over time, SEO changes, search engine algorithms change and the terms your customers use will change so make sure you routinely go over your keyword research to make sure it up-to-date and accurate.