24 January 2011 Eskom’s 10-year, US$1.75-billion bond – aimed solely at international investors – has been more than two-and-a-half times oversubscribed, says Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, calling it a sign of investor confidence in South Africa. “The oversubscription on the bond issuance demonstrates international investors’ confidence in Eskom and the South African government,” Gigaba said in Pretoria last week. “This is Eskom’s first dollar bond issue, and the pricing is extremely attractive for us,” Dames said. “It has been facilitated by the government’s strong support for Eskom, and we are within the cost of funding target set by Eskom’s regulators.” “We welcome the confidence that international investors have shown in Eskom,” said Eskom CEO Brian Dames, adding that the offer was “an important part of our funding programme. The proceeds will be used to fund our committed capital expansion programme, and so help to keep the lights on for all South Africans. The oversubscription follows roadshows conducted in the US, UK and Europe. The US$1.75-billion (about R12.3-billion) bond is only available to foreigners, and may not be sold to investors in South Africa. Funding capital expansion Gigaba said the government’s support of Eskom had helped to lower the utility’s risk profile and had provided the foundation for Eskom once more to be able to raise funding off its own balance sheet. Source: BuaNews Ratings agencies, including Moody’s and Fitch, have responded favourably to the government’s decision to increase guarantees for Eskom debt to a total of R350-billion, up from R176-billion. Lowering risk profile “We hope that this trend will persist as other state-owned enterprises approach the market to raise funds for their capital expansion programmes, as this will serve to reduce pressure on the fiscus,” Dames said, adding that completion of the utility’s build programme was critical for ensuring security of electricity supply in South Africa.
Tags:#2009 Redux#web#Year in Review At the beginning of this year, analyst firm Gartner released a report that highlights eight up-and-coming mobile technologies which they predict will impact the mobile industry over the course of the next two years. According to Nick Jones, vice president and analyst at the firm, the technologies they’ve identified will evolve quickly and will likely pose issues that will have to be addressed by short term strategies. Editor’s note: This story is part of a series we call Redux, where we’ll re-publish some of our best posts of 2009. As we look back at the year – and ahead to what next year holds – we think these are the stories that deserve a second glance. It’s not just a best-of list, it’s also a collection of posts that examine the fundamental issues that continue to shape the Web. We hope you enjoy reading them again and we look forward to bringing you more Web products and trends analysis in 2010. Happy holidays from Team ReadWriteWeb!The eight technologies identified include the following:Bluetooth 3.0 This is one of the no-brainers on the list. The Bluetooth 3.0 specification will be released this year and devices will start to hit the shelves by 2010. At this point, it’s expected that the 3.0 spec will include faster speeds, reportedly transferring files at 480 megabits per second in close proximity and 100 megabits per second at 10 meters. It will also feature an ultra-low-power mode that Gartner predicts will enable new peripherals, sensors, and applications, such as health monitoring. The technology will be backwards compatible, allowing old devices to communicate with new ones, so there’s no reason for it not take off in the upcoming years. Mobile User Interfaces + Mobile Web/WidgetsMobile user interfaces and mobile web/widgets were listed separately, accounting for two items on the list, but we think they can be lumped together. They all point to how mobile computing is rapidly becoming a new platform for everything from consumer mobile apps to B2E (business-to-employee) and B2C (business-to-customer). (Gartner did not include B2B on their list.) Modern day smartphones like the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, the upcoming Pre, and others deliver better interfaces for browsing the web, thus making it accessible to more people. Widget-like applications, including those that replicate thin client technology, will become more common especially in B2C strategies. Yet the mobile web still has challenges ahead. For example, there are no standards for browser access to handset services like the camera or GPS, the report notes. Location AwarenessLocation sensing, powered by GPS as well as Wi-Fi and triangulation, opens up new possibilities for mobile social networking and presence applications. Technology’s earliest adopters are already familiar with social networks like Brightkite and Loopt which let you reveal your location to a network of friends. But we’re still on the tip of this iceberg. Take for example, the iPhone IM client Palringo, they’re just now adding location services to their application. This allows users to see how far away their contacts are, introducing a whole new dimension to mobile communication. Over the next year or two, this sort of technology is expected to become more commonplace, but it will also raise questions about privacy. Will you want your network of online friends and acquaintances to really know your exact location? Will turning off location awareness signal that you’re up to something sneaky (so asks the suspicious wife, husband, boss, etc.)? As a society, we will have to answer these questions and more in the near future. Near Field Communication (NFC) NFC is a technology that provides a way for consumers to use their mobile phones for making payments, among other things. It’s something that has taken off in many countries worldwide, but certainly not all, and definitely not in the United States just yet. Unfortunately, Gartner predicts that the move towards mobile payment systems will still not occur this year or the next in mature markets like the U.S. and Western Europe. Instead, NFC is more likely to take off in emerging markets. Other uses of the technology, such as the ability to transfer photos from phone to digital photo frames, will also remain elusive to more developed markets. 802.11n & Cellular Broadband802.11n, a specification for wireless local area networks (WLANs), initially gave us pause. Although not ratified as an official standard yet, the technology is already commonplace. However, until it “goes gold” so to speak, it won’t really infiltrate the mobile world. Even the ubiquitous iPhone only supports 802.11 b/g at the moment. On the flip side, the other Internet connection technology, cellular broadband, has the potential to make Wi-Fi almost unnecessary, at least for achieving high speeds. In addition to mobile phones, laptop makers will likely continue to incorporate this technology into their netbooks and notebooks using modern chipsets that provide superior performance to our current crop of add-on cards and dongles.Display Technologies Display technologies will also see improvements in the upcoming years. New technologies like active pixel displays, passive displays and pico projectors will have an impact. Pico projectors – the tiny portable projectors we saw being introduced at this year’s CES – will enable new mobile use cases. Instant presentations in informal settings could become more common when there isn’t large, cumbersome equipment to set up. The different types of display technologies introduced in 2009 and 2010 will become important differentiators between devices and will impact user selection criterion, says Gartner. For more information on these above technologies, you can read through the full report available here on Gartner’s web site. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments on how you think the mobile space will be impacted in the future. sarah perez Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
The federal government appears ready to take dramatic action against U.S. wireless carriers that fail to protect Android smartphone buyers against malware — specifically by not pushing out timely operating-system updates. And the catalyst most likely to kick the feds into gear is an American Civil Liberties Union complaint filed Tuesday with the Federal Trade Commission.Let The Market DecideWhat the ACLU is asking is not difficult. Rather than have the FTC order carriers to ship security updates to the Android operating system as soon as they are made available by Google, the ACLU wants customers to be told upfront that they won’t be getting the updates needed to protect their personal data from hackers.“We think the companies should be forthcoming about this,” Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and a senior policy analyst for the ACLU, said. “If consumers knew that certain phones weren’t going to get updates, they might not buy those phones in the first place.”Rather than force carriers to spend a lot of money on automatic update services, the ACLU wants the market to fix the problem, a stand that many lawmakers in Congress should applaud.“We want the market to work, but consumers are never going to get to vote with their wallets if they don’t know which phones are secure and which phones are not secure,” Soghoian said.(See also: FTC To Carriers: Fix Security Or End Up Like HTC)The ACLU complaint names AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA. AT&T declined comment, Sprint said it follows “industry-standard best practices,” and Verizon said it works closely with manufacturers to provide “mandatory updates to devices as quickly as possible.”T-Mobile was the only carrier to say that it keeps Android customers up to date with the latest software. “T-Mobile takes security very seriously, and regularly provides security updates to our customers, including those using the Android operating system,” a company spokesman said.The FTC Plays The HeavyIf that is what T-Mobile does, then it is more in line with the FTC’s thinking than its rivals. In a February settlement with smartphone manufacturer HTC, the agency pointedly emphasized the need to secure mobile devices.Under FTC pressure, HTC agreed to a “comprehensive security program” that includes patching vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and spammers. The agreement was significant because it outlined for all device manufacturers what the FTC considers best practices for security.Keeping software up to date is a critical defense against hackers, who often target known vulnerabilities in software because so many users continue to run older, bug-ridden versions. In a blog post following the HTC settlement, FTC chief technologist Steve Bellovin made it clear that securing mobile devices was the responsibility of manufacturers and carriers, and they have to work together at getting updates out to customers.“Bugs happen, ergo fixes have to happen,” Bellovin said.Android malware is a much larger problem outside the U.S., particularly in Asia and Eastern Europe. That’s because people in those regions will download applications from third-party app stores, many of which distribute malware-infected software. In the U.S., most people get their apps from the Google Play store, which regularly checks for malicious software.Nevertheless, 97% of new mobile malware is directed at Android devices, which comprise 72% of the smartphone market, according to security vendor Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report. While most infections today occur from downloading bad apps, experts say hackers are increasingly trying to compromise devices through spam that carries links to malicious Web sites.Given the mood of the FTC, and trends in Android malware, it should be obvious to carriers that the status quo is unacceptable. If they aren’t ready to make changes on their own, then they’re likely to get an unfriendly shove from the feds.Image courtesy of Shutterstock Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Tags:#aclu#american civil liberties union#Android#AT&T#federal trade commission#FTC#malware#security#Sprint Nextel#T-Mobile#Verizon Wireless#wireless carriers What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts antone gonsalves The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the update cycle. The last known update to the public Google PageRank number (as shown via the toolbar and tools like WebsiteGrader.com), was around April 30th 2007. So, as I write this article, it has been over 4 months since the last update. In all the time that I’ve been watching the Google PageRank updates, this is the longest lapse I’ve seen. This likely means that we’re going to see an update “any day now”. Measuring SEO 2. Updates happen inconsistently (you never really know when the next one is coming) Most SEO experts are of the opinion that the Google PageRank number that is available to the public (often known as the “toolbar PageRank”) is not very important. The toolbar PR (TBPR) is the number shown via the Google Toolbar and other software applications (like WebsiteGrader.com’s Originally published Sep 10, 2007 11:22:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 If you’re interested in knowing when the next Google PageRank update happens, I have a simple solution for you. Just 3. It’s a coarse number (0-10 — no fractions) in comparison to the “internal” PageRank number Google uses for its ranking algorithm. SEO Report First off, if you don’t know what Google PageRank is, then here’s a quick So, although Google PageRank has its limitations, it continues to be monitored and cited (if you’re in the market for buying a website, one of the things you’ll likely look at is the Google PageRank of the site). All of these are legitimate reasons that do indeed severely limit the utility of the public Google PageRank. However, this number continues to be interesting to many folks primarily because it is the simplest abstraction that can easily be accessed to determine the general “authority” for a given web page. It factors in the two most important things from an SEO perspective: The number of inbound links to a given web page and the power/authority of those links. Topics: What does this mean to you? If you have a relatively new site, or have just started getting meaningful inbound links recently, don’t fret if your Google PageRank is zero. Since there hasn’t been an update in a while, chances are your current PR (or lack thereof) is simply based on the old data. Once the update occurs, you should see yourself move up. WebsiteGrader.com is currently at a PR5 (which is not bad), but I expect the site to jump to a PR6 as it has more powerful links than some of our other sites which already have a PR6. introduction to Google PageRank register for this site and we’ll send you a quick email when the update happens. We monitor hundreds of websites on behalf of our users, so when the change happens, we’ll likely be one of the first ones to know — and so will you. . SEO experts think Google PageRank is not a particularly meaningful number for a variety of reasons: . 1. Updates happen infrequently (every few months) Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Originally published Oct 31, 2007 9:30:00 AM, updated October 01 2019 Today we released a 2008 Presidential Candidates Internet Marketing Report, which analyzes how the major candidates in the upcoming election are using Internet marketing to promote themselves. Nothing in this report or post is meant to be a political statement, so please keep the comments on marketing related issues. Below are some of the findings from the report that I thought were surprising.2008 Presidential Candidates Internet Marketing Report – 2 Mistakes the Candidates are Making Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Blogging – Most of the candidates websites have blogs, usually written by staffers who talk about the campaign in general terms. But blogging is a lot more about a personal connection and discussion than preaching from the safety of an ivory tower. Only Mitt Romney uses blogging to create a personal connection with the audience. Mitt’s wife and sons frequently post to the blog, and Mitt himself even writes some entires. John Edwards and his wife and daughter do have “diaries” but the posts are very infrequent. All the other candidates are missing out on a huge opportunity to personally connect with voters – which is important.SEO – The search engine optimization performance of the candidates is pretty weak if you ask me. They have tons of inbound links, lots of people in the blogosphere who love them, and they are just not doing the things they should do to get qualified traffic from search engines. How cool of a PR stunt would it be for one of the candidates to dominate the first page of google for “President” or “Best President”. Plus, if someone is researching “war in Iraq new policy” and I were running for president, I would be pretty pissed if I was not mentioned in the search results.If you want to see an older post I wrote that inspired some of this analysis, you can read Presidential Internet Marketing – Data Comparing Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Romney, Giuliani and McCain. And again, here is a link to the full Presidential Candidate Internet Marketing Report and the Press Release about the Internet Marketing Report announcing the report and results. Did you like what you read? Want more? Get automatic updates by subscribing to our RSS Feed or Email List (top right hand side of this page).
Q: What are your five favorite blogs? (Other than the HubSpot blog!) June 2006 keyword analysis A: I’ve written about 1,800 posts over the last 5 years so it’s a bit tricky to pick just one. Online Marketing Blog A few specific posts that are top of mind: Q: Blogging and social media may work for some technology-focused businesses, but what about businesses in more traditional industries? Do blogging and social media work for everybody? . The man who currently owns that spot is Lee Odden, a successful online marketer who, in addition to running a his popular blog, is CEO of in the top spot. A: I started blogging for . in The web has become very social and will continue to do so through technology that enables content sharing and connections. Search engine optimization is at the core of what we do in all our practice areas. Blogging and social media marketing efforts affect SEO and vice versa. Direct Marketing vs Social Media Marketing Make no mistake, measuring return on investment for marketing channels that are not direct response takes some creativity. But it is there and definitely measurable. to learn how to create a thriving inbound marketing blog. Q. What impact has your blog had on your business? Q: What’s your favorite blog post that you’ve ever written? Why? That’s valuable real estate — over 700 searches per month, according to our . Lee was kind enough to spend some time earlier this week answering questions about his blog and online marketing. Q: How long have you been blogging? A: Blogging, SEO and social media are all intimately intertwined. I don’t see them as completely different marketing channels, although there are distinct metrics for each. Dec 2003 What’s important is the mix that will best help the client reach their goals. Marketing on the social web is about helping customers reach their goals. Consumer information discovery increasingly involves more than just search, so involving blogs and social media to some extent is almost always a part of every client engagement. If we can see opportunities for our clients to reach and engage their customers in specific areas of the web AND it can be measured, then we’ll make recommendations accordingly. I like a lot of the Top Rank Online Marketing because the majority contain great information and many are entertaining. A: The first thing to do is “listen” and pay attention to what others are blogging and doing within social communities. It’s simply not effective to publish and promote content via blogging and social media without being a participant. Get involved by subscribing to other blogs on and off topic to get an idea of voice, frequency and etiquette. Join social networks and connect with other like-minded people, share opinions, content and interact. Then you’ll have a foundation for going forward with your own blogging and social media marketing efforts. TopRankMarketing.com I’d also recommend using an outside consultant that clearly practices what they preach. Getting advice from an experienced blogger/social media participant can save time, embarrassment and money. That’s a big part of what TopRank does in our blog and social media marketing practices: serve as a guide to help clients help themselves. If you search Google for “marketing blog” chances are you’ll find A: Measuring the return on any marketing investment starts with setting goals. Knowing the audience, your objectives, a strategy and mix of tactics for reaching those objectives all lead up to the measurement piece. Internet marketing offers amazing metrics, far beyond what many offline marketing and advertising expenditures return. Webinar: Blogging for Business Digital PR and SEO: Social Media Monitoring A. Online Marketing Blog has been instrumental in growing our business. It generates daily new business inquiries, weekly inquiries from the media as well as candidates and marketing partners. Over 5 years we’ve posted over 2,000 articles on internet marketing topics and have been recognized in many ways for that besides growing revenue, which of course, is what pays the bills. A: We manage a list of over 500 blogs on our Q. In addition to advising companies on business blogging, your company offers search engine and social media marketing services. That’s a lot of different things. Do you advise clients to get involved in all of them? Is there one channel that’s best? Or most important? so I have a lot more than 5 favorite blogs. Originally published Jan 16, 2009 8:52:00 AM, updated October 18 2015 A: In terms of traffic, “25 Tips for Marketing Your Blog” posted in We identify expectations, business needs and reconcile those with goals for a marketing program. SEO is easier to measure in terms of a direct association with revenue. Blogs can be measured in that way too. Getting ROI measurements out of social media and blogging efforts most often comes from an association with other known channels. For example, if a blog ranks well in search engines, then the cost per click can be identified for those keyword rankings and a valuation can be calculated. If social media or a blog post result in media coverage, then a value for what it would cost to hire a PR firm to earn that coverage can be associated as a return on the social media or blogging effort. Content Distribution Networks A: Great question. Running our business in terms of day-to-day operation has little to do with our blog. In terms of marketing and building thought leadership, it would certainly be possible to have a successful marketing program without a blog. It would involve other social media communication channels that allow two-way communications, frequent updates, engaging information sharing, etc – many features of a blog. However, with all that functionality contained right within blog software, I’d prefer to use blog software as a preferred way to create and promote content that inspires the kinds of conversations leading to new business, improved credibility and confidence in the TopRankMarketing.com brand. Q: Could you run your business without your blog? A: Within our organization my functional responsibilities involve our organization’s business strategy, business development, some training and marketing. Most operational duties are handled by my business partner, Susan Misukanis. The marketing portion of my job is to be the public face of our organization speaking at about 15 events a year and being social on the web via TopRankBlog.com, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack BIGLIST Q: What do you tell your clients when they ask about the ROI of social media, blogging or SEO investments? Q: What’s the most popular blog post you’ve ever written? A: Sometimes blogging and social media do not make sense for reasons other than a specific industry mis-match. If a company doesn’t have the resources or appreciation/understanding of how blogging and social media work – tech biz or not – it shouldn’t bother. At least not until they make efforts to get up to speed with internal staff and/or via outside resources. Back to your question. Wherever there are people talking online about a topic, there is an opportunity for blogging and social media. Industry is irrelevant to predicting the viability of incorporating social media into an organization’s marketing and communication efforts. It’s the customers that matter and if customers or potential customers are involved with and influenced by blogs and social media, then companies that serve those customers should participate. If not, their competition will. Q: When you’re not blogging, you run an internet marketing business — can you describe what you do? Want to learn more about publishing a blog on your business website? Download the free webinar Q: What advice would you give to a small business owner or professional marketer who’s just starting out with blogging and social media? has been the most popular. interviews we’ve done with SEO and social media people
whose product is their content ‘s did for their Digital Marketing Mixer in Chicago. By allowing people who did not attend the conference to view some of the talks, it increased awareness for their conference and perhaps will even help registration for 2010. For authors, your offering might be an eBook. For HubSpot’s 1) Consider your blog articles “free samples.” Here are a few ideas: . Many folks will download the Kindle version, spread the word about your product, and write reviews. Meanwhile, others will buy the physical book, too! If an individual actually learns something from a blog post that you’ve created, you’ve already earned their respect and potentially their curiosity about your other offerings. They’ll get to know your writing style and start seeing you as a resource they can trust. This is what the folks at Webinar: Advanced Business Blogging Learn how to build your business blog into an inbound marketing machine. kalandrakas This is an easy one, but often forgotten. Make sure you build something on your website or blog to aggregate what people are saying about your paid content. For example, we created a ” . This gave people a flavor for what they could learn from the book, but also provided them with something fun that they could share with their entire network. 3) Livestream conferences in real-time to widen your net for your next show. By making your book available as a free Kindle download, people will link and promote your Amazon page. David Meerman Scott did this with his book MarketingProfs How on earth can a person or business make money selling their content if they’re giving it away for free? 4) Feature the content that to learn how to create a thriving blog. Inbound Marketing World Wide Rave Originally published Nov 18, 2009 8:30:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 ” for Inbound Marketing University that features the blog posts of IMU students. other — use free content to sell more books, get butts in conference seats, and earn speaking engagements? Student Bulletin Board people are producing about your content. Flickr Credit: 5) Give away your book for free on Kindle for a few days. book, we made an Inbound marketing is a no-brainer for folks selling a product online, but how can authors, speakers and event producers — Download the free webinar eBook of inbound marketing cartoons 2) Repackage your content in a different way. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Topics: Holiday Marketing Fa la la la la! La la la la! Fa la la la la! La la la la! Search Engine Optimization Kit ‘Tis the season for happy marketing. We hope this special carol will bring a smile to you and the marketers in your life. This is the first of a series of four HubSpot Holiday videos. Enjoy! Download our Keyword rich with inbound linking Tweet this marketing carol! . and @ Fa la la la la! La la la la! Learn moreabout how you can optimize your site to rank higher in search enginesso you get found by more qualified prospects. Common Sound HubSpot Singers: repcor search engine optimization kit shaxxon Search Engine Optimization! Fa la la la la la! La la la! Begins with content creation! Lyrics Video Credits Originally published Dec 17, 2009 8:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Gets you traffic. That’s smart thinking! Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Producers: @
Originally published Jun 5, 2012 12:59:00 PM, updated October 02 2019 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Include Examples Sometimes the most effective way to explain a concept or a point is to do it through examples. While real-life examples are ideal, don’t be afraid to make up hypothetical ones to help you get your point across. In fact, we’ve done it a couple times already in this very post (or did you think there were actual unicorn breeders out there?).Just be sure that you’re choosing or constructing an example that your particular audience can relate to. If you’re a B2B company selling to businesses in one particular industry, for example, offering up an example from an entirely different, unrelated industry wouldn’t exactly be as relatable as an example specific to your readers’ industry, now would it? Consider Visual Components While visual components are not a requirement, there are definitely many how-to topics that lend themselves to — and are made better by — visual explanations. I don’t know about you, but if I were reading an article about how to change a flat tire, I’d definitely appreciate some kind of visual aid. These visuals can be in the form of images like charts, graphs, or content/ concept visualizations , or they can even include video content. Use your judgment about whether your particular how-to post would be made more helpful with some kind of visual component, and if so, create it! For example, we created the visual below to help explain the concept of content mapping in our how-to post on selecting the right call-to-action for every page on your website .As a best practice, always accompany visuals with supportive text. When incorporating video content, include a text-based explanation or transcript of the video. Not everyone likes video, and even when they do enjoy video how-to’s, it’s often helpful to have the text to follow along with or refer back to. Check out our how-to post on how to analyze Facebook Insights to improve your content strategy for an example of how to effectively marry video how-to’s with text. Finesse the Title Remember that working title you generated in the first step? That won’t do. The working title of this very post was, “How to Write a How-To Post,” but that wouldn’t have been as catchy as the title I decided on. Don’t gloss over the title, as it’s usually a potential reader’s first impression of your content. If they’re not captivated by your title, why would they choose to read your post? A great title should be actionable, concise, keyword-conscious, clear, definitive, and intriguing — all characteristics we elaborate on in our post about how to master the art of exceptional blog titles . See what I did there? ;-)So, should all how-to posts start out with “How to…”? To be honest, it’s probably your best bet. It indicates to readers exactly the type of post they’re about to read (and like we already said, people love a good, solid how-to post), it’s actionable, and it clearly demonstrates the value. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Test it for yourself! Wrap it Up As with any blog post, you’ll want to include the other key components of a great business blog post. Wrap it up in some way. You don’t need to write a long, drawn-out conclusion; a sentence or two, or a question to spark discussion should do the trick. And don’t forget to add a relevant call-to-action so you can generate some leads from that awesome, likely evergreen how-to post you just wrote. As always, have a grammar-conscious colleague review and edit your post. Finally, get a second opinion, ideally from someone who doesn’t know how to do what your post is instructing. After reading your post, does this person feel like they have everything they need to know to complete the task? They should! Have you mastered the powerful how-to post for your business blog? What other helpful tips would you add to this guide? Image Credit: Lee Nachtigal There is no shortage of different types of content you can create to feed your business blog. Thought leadership-based content, commentary on industry news, data-driven analyses, list-style posts … the options are numerous. But one type stands out from the rest. It’s a business blogging classic. It’s … the how-to post.How-to posts are favorited by bloggers and readers alike. They’re valuable and helpful, they make great pieces of evergreen content that stand the test of time, and they’re an inbound marketing staple to reap the benefits of educating your prospects . As a matter of fact, analysis of content published on this very blog reveals that how-to style posts generate an average of 55% more views than all other types of posts on our blog . For all of these reasons, it behooves you to become really great at writing them. And what’s a more fitting way to learn how to write a stellar how-to post than a how-to post itself? Oh man, this post is about to get really meta …So put on your teacher hat , and read on to learn how to write a how-to post like a blogging pro.Download 6 Free Blog Post Templates Now Choose Your How-To Topic Actually, why don’t you spend some time brainstorming a list of how-to topics? Like I said, how-to posts are an inbound marketer’s business blogging staple, so why not take the opportunity to come up with a backlog of ideas? Step into the shoes of your marketing personas, and think about what they’d like to learn how to do. Talk to your customer team — you know, the people who talk to your customers day-in and day-out and understand their needs as they pertain to your business and industry. What do they want — or need — to learn? Chances are, the questions your customer team gets asked the most will make great how-to post fodder.At HubSpot, we sell marketing software , and our ideal customers are constantly trying to learn how to be better marketers; so here are a few examples of how-to posts we’ve written that teach them how to be just that: How to Set the Right Lead-Gen Goals for Your Marketing Team How to Use Hashtags on Twitter: A Simple Guide for Marketers How to Stalk Your Competitors in 10 Minutes [Marketing Hack] When you settle on your topic, choose a simple working title to keep you on track. Make it specific to exactly what you’re going to be instructing your readers to do. Don’t worry about the length — you’ll finesse it later, and it’s really just meant to help guide your writing. Brainstorm the Steps From Start to Finish Okay, so you’ve got your topic and a working title to get you started. Your next task to tackle is a bare-bones outline. In this, you’ll list the individual steps your readers will take to do what it is you’re teaching them how to do, from start to finish. You can even do this directly within your blogging tool , making each step a header so you just have to go back and fill in the blanks later when you start writing. You can even add sub-headings to certain steps if it’s helpful to break it out in that way, or just jot down some specific tips pertaining to that section.Make sure your steps are in the proper order and that they’re comprehensive. In other words, if the reader follows the steps you’ve outlined, will he or she be able to successfully accomplish what you’re instructing them to do — or are you missing some critical steps? Remember, you’re teaching someone how to do something they don’t know how to do (or how to do well ), so it’s important to include every critical step. Introduce It Once you have your how-to post skeleton, write an introduction that sets the stage for your how-to content. In your intro, provide some context about why it’s important or helpful for your audience to learn what you’re about to instruct them to do so they understand the value of reading on. Your introduction can also be made stronger by including data and statistics to that demonstrate and prove exactly why your how-to topic is so critical. While it might not always be possible to find, conducting some quick research and pinpointing a great supportive stat can make your introduction even more compelling. Check out the example below, which shows the beginning of a recent how-to post we published on using LinkedIn emails for lead generation. That’s a pretty compelling stat, right? Furthermore, in your introduction, be very specific about what you’re going to teach your audience how to do to properly set reader expectations. If you’re a unicorn breeder and the point of your post is to teach unicorn owners how to train their unicorns to do one specific trick, yet your introduction promises to teach readers how to implement a full-fledged unicorn juggling act, then you wouldn’t be properly setting expectations, would you? Instruct by Filling in the Steps Once you’ve nailed down your intro, it’s time for the meat of the post — the actual how-to instructions. You’ve already got the headings for your steps down, so think of it as just filling in the blanks. When filling in this content, be sure to write in the second person (use pronouns “you,” “your,” and “yours”), as if you’re actually teaching your individual readers one on one. You should also use transitions between sections so each of your steps flow smoothly into the next. Here are a few other meatier tips to keep in mind as you’re writing the content for your how-to steps. Be Specific, Descriptive, and Detailed To write a truly valuable how-to post, don’t assume your readers already know how to do anything you discuss in the post. After all, you know what happens when you assume, don’t you? In other words, don’t just tell your readers to do something; tell them exactly how to do it. Be very specific in your instructions. Link to Other Resources To piggyback off my last point, sometimes you might mention something that needs a much more detailed explanation for some readers than that post has the space to explain; in fact, explaining the concept in detail might totally derail the post, which is common in more intermediate- or advanced-level how-to posts. In these instances, simply mention your point and link to another resource that explains it in more detail. Bonus points if it’s an article you’ve already written — and if you haven’t, then you might just have another blog post idea to add to your backlog! Here is an example from our how-to post on designing a persona-centric website experience , which links to our more in-depth ebook on creating effective calls-to-action . Mention Tools Depending on the topic of your how-to post, your readers may or may not need certain tools to carry out the instructions you provide in your article. Don’t gloss over that. If your audience is going to need to use tools, recommend and suggest some options for them. For example, if you’re a plumber writing, “How to Unclog a Sink Drain in 5 Simple Steps,” and one of those steps includes pouring a liquid plumber down the drain, recommend a few liquid plumbing products that work well. And hey, it’s okay if one of those product options is the proprietary liquid plumber your plumbing business sells. You’re ultimately blogging to make money, right? Product mentions when appropriate and tactful are fine as long as you don’t overdo it. See what we did in the example below, mentioning HubSpot’s marketing analytics tools in our how-to post about improving your email marketing with an integrated approach ?
Once viewed as a niche player in the social space, Pinterest has become one of the fastest growing social networks ever, harnessing both an increased user base and its exponential growth as a referring site to become a considerable force in the marketing world.Free Resource: 12 Pinterest Templates for BusinessEqually important for businesses to consider is the buying power behind Pinterest: Pinterest users purchase items more often and in greater quantities, spend more money, and shop more frequently than any other social network. So if your initial trial of using Pinterest for business has yielded positive results and you think Pinterest is a viable social media marketing platform for your business, you know what the next step is, right? Optimization!To get you started, below we’ll outline 10 great tips to optimize your business’ Pinterest presence for search. 1) Choose an Optimized Company UsernameIn November 2012, Pinterest finally launched Pinterest business accounts, which make registering for a business account (or converting a personal account into a business account) easy and painless. Going the “business” route also makes it easier to verify your website, add links to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and add Pinterest buttons and widgets to your company site or blog. For more detailed information about how use Pinterest’s new business accounts, check out the free HubSpot ebook, A Guide to Pinterest’s New Business Accounts here.The first thing you should do to optimize your Pinterest business account for search is to make sure your company name is straightforward. The field to indicate your company name has no character limit; but the challenge often comes with your username, which is confined to 15 characters. If your full company name fits — fantastic! But if it doesn’t, choose something memorable, keyword-conscious, and easy to spell that is also clearly associated with your business. For example, The New York Times has amassed over 44,000 followers using the username “NYTimes,” while Martha Stewart Weddings in the Middle East chose “MSWeddingsME” to differentiate itself from other Martha Stewart properties, but still capitalizing on search traffic for weddings.Furthermore, be sure to verify your website. Log in to your Pinterest account, and go to ‘Settings.’ Check to ensure you’ve listed your website here before clicking the ‘Verify Website’ button.2) Optimize Your Page’s ‘About’ SectionThe Pinterest ‘About’ section provides you with 200 characters of prime keyword real estate, so use this space wisely. In addition to being descriptive and keyword-sensitive, your ‘About’ section should also be simple, succinct, and specific. Two hundred characters is plenty of space for a keyword-rich overview that covers the who, what, and where of what you do, so use it smartly — and don’t forget to add your website URL in the space provided!3) Include Links Back to Your Website Pinterest re-pin links used to be “dofollow” links, but last year, following standard practice with other social networks in the space, Pinterest adopted “nofollow” links. In other words, these links do not pass any SEO authority. But even those these links won’t give you any extra oomph in terms of SEO, we still recommend optimizing for user experience and brand awareness. After all, what good is search engine optimizing your Pinterest presence if you’re not ultimately driving users back to your website?Always include a reference link back to your website with your pins, and if you re-pin a post that features your content or products, edit the description to include a full link (just don’t use a URL shortener here, as Pinterest is known to mark pins containing shortended links as spam). Including a link back to your website will not only reinforce that the image is associated with your brand, but it will also open up a direct pathway to purchase (for ecommerce) or learn more (for services).Etsy is a great example of a Pinterest presence that excels at mixing great content from other sites with products featured on its own site. In doing so, Etsy always includes a direct link to purchase the item on their site along with the username of the specific Etsy shop owner. A great example is Etsy’s pin featuring a humorous burrito card, which includes a brief overview of the card under the image and a direct link to see the product on Etsy in the link’s description.Think of links in Pinterest as providing the next step for pinners — where they can find the image they loved enough to click, re-pin, Like, or comment on. Use links to make that distance between the pin and the content/product as short as possible so you can improve the experience of your users and eventually drive more traffic and awareness to your site — social signals that search engines may end up picking up on in their algorithms over time.4) Differentiate Your PinboardsBy default, Pinterest offers some general pinboard options to get users thinking about how to bucket and organize their pins into different boards. For businesses, however, getting more specific and unique in your board descriptions is critical to helping you get found on Pinterest. According to a study by RJ Metrics, more than 3% of pinboards are titled “For the Home,” followed by “My Style” and “Products I Love,” all three of which are default board names recommended by Pinterest.Break through the pinboard name clutter and be specific and keyword-conscious in the selection of your board names. If you’re an interior designer, replace “For the Home” with “Modern Kitchens” or “Children’s Bedrooms” so that potential search terms align more closely with what end users might be looking for and increase the likelihood of standing out from the massive clutter of default –or just plain unoriginal — board names.5) Speak Your Customers’ LanguagePinterest is not a place to play inside baseball and use expressions that are unique to your company. Your ‘About’ sections and board names should all be optimized using terms your target customers and buyer personas actually use in their everyday lives. Being relevant on Pinterest means understanding what your customer is looking for, what he or she is most interested in buying or pinning, and what related industries or topics the pinner might be seeking out. It should not feel like an advertising board for your products; instead, it should feel like a comfortable space that’s curated around the style, needs, and lifestyle of your potential clients.One great example of speaking your customers’ language is fashion brand 2 Penny Blue. 2 Penny Blue is a high-end fashion brand specializing in blazers, but instead of only pinning items they make and sell, the company’s Pinterest boards are centered around the types of style and advice that 2PB clients might want to emulate, including a board called “Style Muses” featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gwenyth Paltrow, accessory boards packed with current trends, and pins like a guide to navigating champagne cocktails.When you think about your Pinterest boards, consider your customers’ buying habits, average age, and lifestyle, and build your pinning strategy around their terminology, interests, and potential search terms. For example, if you’re a real estate broker, Pinterest is a great place to pin images or videos with helpful tips for buying a home, but it’s also a great place to showcase your knowledge of your community. Boards featuring local schools, attractions, restaurants, and parks will help potential customers understand the markets where you sell and build trust that you understand their needs. Create authentic boards that connect to your clients and how they live, and use terminology that is straightforward and relatable. The search engines, your audience, and Pinterest will thank you for it!6) Use Your Pins’ Descriptions WiselyThe biggest opportunity for text-based content on Pinterest is the description area for each individual pin. Here, the platform gives you 500 characters to work with, which users can fill with anything from recipe instructions, to notes and commentary, to credits for other vendors, to location and usage information … and more. When describing your pins, include terms that your users will relate to and use on their own, add links to the original product or content, and consider adding instructions on product usage or care. The great balancing act with descriptions is ensuring that you include relevant keywords, relatable context, and easy-to-follow links to the content featured in the post. For example, real wedding website Style Me Pretty has almost five million followers on Pinterest and some of the most liked and re-pinned content on Pinterest. In addition to choosing beautiful imagery that’s relevant to their audience, they also tailor their descriptions perfectly for SEO. Their pin showcasing do-it-yourself noisemakers includes a link to the Style Me Pretty website for instructions, links to the photographer and stylist, and a quick overview of what pinners can expect (DIY noisemakers and escort cards) when they click through on the pin to the website.One of the single biggest mistakes companies make on Pinterest is being lazy about their pins’ descriptions. Ignoring the descriptions altogether, using language that your customers don’t understand or relate to, linking to irrelevant content (or not linking out at all), or just repeating keywords over and over again is a great way to get lost in the SEO shuffle. Instead, focus on creating remarkable descriptions that help you stand out from the pack.7) Make Sure the Images You Pin Have Descriptive File Names & Alt TextGiven that Pinterest is a highly visual platform, using interesting imagery that is formatted and named correctly can have a significant impact on the success of your boards — and individual pins themselves. Many companies make the mistake of uploading photos using their default names. For example, an image named 1.13.13ShootImage722.jpg doesn’t help you at all in search, while a clearly named “Boston-townhouse.jpg” can help a search engine decipher what your image is about much more easily. Furthermore, if you pin an image from your website, make sure that image has clear alt text associated with it. The same rule we talked about with pin descriptions also applies here: Use naming conventions your customers will identify with. If a product you’re pinning has an obscure name that isn’t broadly known or intuitive, skip it in favor of a potential keyword search term.In addition, make an effort to size your images optimally for Pinterest. Pinterest does not place any restrictions on the height of an image, but it does constrict the width of images to 554 pixels. Dan Zarrella’s analysis shows that taller images are more re-pinnable — likely because they take up more space in users’ Pinterest feeds — so use that to your advantage. Make sure your images are properly sized for use on Pinterest, use high-quality, beautiful imagery, and keep in mind that in this case, height is a distinct advantage, so if you’re assembling a “recipe for technology implementation success” or an inspiration board of your company goals for 2013, create an image that is tall, visually interesting, and aptly named using appropriate keywords.8) Incorporate HashtagsThat’s right! Hashtags are no longer just for Twitter. In fact, hashtags on Pinterest not only allow you to organize pins by a specific theme or campaign, but they also make your pins a lot more searchable. For example, Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida knows that wedding planning is one of the most common uses of Pinterest. As a result, pins on their “Weddings @ Rollins” board, which includes photos of alumni getting married in various locations throughout campus, are organized using hashtags such as #RollinsCollege, #Knowles Chapel, and #Winter Park to ensure that brides searching by city, college, or a specific destination on campus can easily find images of their potential venue.This maximizes awareness of Rollins College’s wedding venue offerings while staying top of mind for brides searching for those terms. And these integrated efforts have definitely paid off: The Weddings @ Rollins board ranks on the first page of a Google search alongside its homepage for the search term “florida wedding rollins,” giving engaged couples great visual content to drive interest and purchase intent as they plan their weddings.9) Leverage the Long TailAs we know from the success of big brands like Amazon, Google, and Netflix, the long tail isn’t just a niche strategy for small businesses. Take a page out of their books when you put your pins’ descriptions together. For example, according to Repinly, food and drink still represent more than 11% of all pins, so if you’re trying to get found by pins about chocolate chip cookies or wine, just writing a short, literal description of your pin is not going to help you cut through the clutter and stand out from the pack. Instead, identify niche, long-tail terms that your customers might pin around, and get more granular with your descriptions.Stumped about how to get more specific? Consider adding your location, product use case details, or the audience you’d like to target to help you master the long tail. Here are some examples:Location: Mistral Boston includes its restaurant name and location right within its Pinterest username, then adds even more clarity by identifying its neighborhood (South End) and style of cuisine (French Mediterranean). Doing so helps them stand out in the space and assists pinners who are looking for great, high-end restaurants in the Boston area.Use Case: RELAX Wines fills its Pinterest account with food recipes that pair well with their wines, backyard entertaining ideas, and even ideas for how to put your finished wine bottles to good use (e.g. wine cork ornaments, garden torches, etc). Help people understand creative ways to use your product or services — it will improve your SEO while also providing followers with more context around usage.Audience: The Seattle Seahawks football team is one of the top sports brands on Pinterest. By outlining specific gift ideas for men, women, and kids, they leverage the fact that 44% of NFL fans are now female to market holiday products, gift ideas, and specific, targeted holiday promotions, all of which helps fans and non-fans alike identify wish list items for their favorite Seahawk supporters.When it comes to descriptions, think about long-tail keywords for your business and industry. Identify keywords that are slightly more specific than “chocolate chip cookies” or “insurance companies” to help people find you more readily, and to help you stand out from the crowd in search results. For more information about the long tail, check out our ultimate guide for mastering long-tail search.10) “Pinjack” Relevant Search Terms and ImagesAlthough the number and engagement of male users on Pinterest is growing, Pinterest’s core user base demographics skew toward female users, so “pinjacking” trends and events relevant to avid pinners can be a great way to increase your organic search. For example, one of the top organic Google search results for “DIY Halloween Costumes” comes not from Walmart, Target, or some costume shop, but from Goodwill Industries of Western Michigan.By combining highly shareable imagery from other highly trafficked sites, trendy costumes, and great board descriptions, Goodwill Industries has managed to improve its overall online presence and increase visibility outside of traditional terms like “Goodwill locations” or “shopping at Goodwill” by taking advantage of pinjack-able trends (think newjacking, but for Pinterest!) and timing around Halloween to maximize their online awareness and traffic.The role Pinterest plays for businesses is growing every day. With 11 million users and growing, the network provides a unique opportunity for companies to leverage visual content, quality descriptions, and insight into customers’ lifestyles and needs while growing their reach and improving their organic search results. Just as with any website, your focus as a business should be on creating remarkable content and a strong community around your product, services, and brand. Happy pinning!Image Credit: Peter Alfred Hess Originally published Jan 11, 2013 4:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Pinterest Marketing