Does Business Blogging Still Get Results in 2017? New Data from 1,000 Bloggers [Infographic]

2017 marks the fourth consecutive year Orbit Media Studios has tapped the insights of 1000+ business bloggers to publish a research report on blogging statistics and trends.

In some cases, the annual blogger survey reflects subtle developments, but in others it reveals some significant changes. However, with four years of data in the books, a theme has clearly developed:

“Bloggers are reporting stronger results from content marketing,” says Orbit Media’s co-founder Andy Crestodina.

“When asked to report on the effectiveness of their efforts, almost 30% of respondents reported ‘strong results.’ The vast majority of bloggers are seeing rewards from their efforts and meeting their goals, whatever they might be.”

Each year, Andy delivers the survey’s findings in a meaty post detailing the data and expressing his conclusions. This year, the survey breaks down into 11 questions across three categories:

  1. Changes in the blogging process
  2. Blog content trends
  3. The promotion and measurement tactics business bloggers employ

Andy and I also collaborate each year on an infographic (see below) to present the most interesting findings in simple terms.

At the risk of reducing the suspense, the answer to the headline above (and headline of the infographic), “Are bloggers still getting results?” is …

Yes.

85% claim their blog delivers strong results or some results. The number represents a 6% increase compared to the year prior.

Peruse the infographic below to discover more about the tactics business bloggers used in 2017 and how it compares to years past.

blogger-survey 2017-infographic-final.png

Want some historical context? Last year, HubSpot’s post Which Blogging Tips Get Results? features a summary of Orbit Media’s findings from 2014, 2015 and 2016.

 

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How to Manage Marketing Campaigns like a Financial Currency Trader

KPIs are due EOD.

Profit and loss statements need to be generated.

Budget status updates have been requested.

Juggling multiple marketing campaigns is stressful. But more importantly, it’s also incredibly risky.

Soon enough, you’ve depleted your budget to the last few cents, and you have nothing to show for it.

Or worse, you didn’t spot the right trends in a successful tactic before spending too much on the underperforming ones.

And now you don’t have enough money to re-allocate to top-tier mediums.

Curiously enough, adopting the same methodical mindset of a financial currency trader can help you better manage results.

Here’s how.

Start With a Currency Arbitrage Mindset

Here’s the problem with digital marketing.

It changes every day. Old stuff gives way to new stuff.

And you never really know how a campaign will perform until you try it.

That saying (1) is unhelpful and (2) requires extra money to experiment with potentially budget-draining activities.

But it’s true.

You really don’t know which playbook, game plan, or actionable tip is going to work until you experiment. The stuff that worked last year almost certainly won’t work the same this year.

Not to mention that every business is structured differently. Each caters to diverse audiences. So copying your competitors or that awesome tactic you read about is also out.

What works for Company X might bankrupt Company Z.

If there were set-in-stone tactics that produced million-dollar businesses overnight, every dude on GrowthHackers.org would be rich.

PPC might be amazing for your friend’s business. But that doesn’t mean investing in PPC is instantly going to turn you into the next Zuckerberg.

So where do people turn when they hit this realization? A/B testing.

You all know those case studies that promise a mythical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

I did X and generated a 40000000000% increase in conversions!

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s not that far off.

Most A/B tests fail, though.

They take too long to get results. Plus that whole “bias” thing. And of course, sample size.

You need a minimum of 1,000 conversions monthly for statistical significance.

So what should you do instead?

Implement a currency arbitrage mindset.

Currency arbitrage is a strategy in which the trader takes advantage of different spreads offered by brokers for a particular currency pair by making trades.

Different spreads imply a gap between the bid and ask prices. Meaning, they can buy and sell pairs to make more money.

What does this mean in English?

Place lots of small bets on different tactics, channels, platforms, and mediums so that you can evaluate their effectiveness in real-time.

Once you see specific trends developing (either positive or negative), you double down on the winners and cut your losses on the rest.

This way, you can test multiple experiments at once without the bias and lack of statistical significance that comes with A/B testing.

You get in and out fast. And you come out on the other side with specific campaigns to focus on rather than a mixed bag.

For example, you can’t always control the end result. But you can control the inputs that eventually get you there. And you can monitor, forecast, or predict where those will fall based on just a few days’ worth of performance.

Then, you can fine tune and adjust each ‘level’ accordingly to squeeze out the best results.

Adjusting Your Budget Based on Market Movement

The first banner advertisement ever appeared on HotWired in 1994.

Look at this gem:

Image Source

By today’s standards, it looks like a joke, right?

Is that tie-dye? Yes, yes it is.

But it gets worse:

See that subliminal “YOU WILL” message on the right???

Super subtle. Lord have mercy on us all.

But guess what?

This banner ad debuted with a click-through rate of 78%.

Yes, you read that right. Seventy. Eight. Percent.

If you told any marketer today that your banner ads are getting a 78% CTR, you’d get laughed out of the room.

Why? It’s inconceivable. It’s probably impossible in today’s world.

Today, the average display ad CTR is 0.05%.

Image Source

This all brings me back to one concept coined by Andrew Chen:

The law of shitty click-throughs:

All marketing strategies over time will result in shitty click-through rates.

As more and more people use these tactics, the market becomes saturated.

Users get sick of it, and they don’t click. Or they go banner blind.

You can see trends that follow this concept with almost any marketing activity.

Remember the good old days when Facebook organic reach was insane?

You paid nothing and reached thousands or millions of eager users.

Now, organic reach is almost nothing:

Image Source

As more and more marketers use the concepts put in place, it results in fewer and fewer results.

This is a perfect example of market movement and active management in currency trading.

You can’t hold certain trades forever and expect exponential performance.

Just because something is generating an insane ROI now, doesn’t mean you can ride it off into the sunset.

Markets are constantly shifting, just like marketing tactics.

What was hot one day (banner ads) isn’t now.

If you don’t adjust your strategy based on analytic research and forecasts, you risk declining performances associated with passive management.

Passive management is when you sit idly by and attempt to cruise to the finish line on your current strategy.

Active management relies on analytical performance data over time to spot trends and make informed decisions about what needs to change.

If you notice a decline in organic reach on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t be dumping your campaign dollars into it.

Unfortunately, us marketers (including me) fall into this trap more often than we’d like to admit.

You log in to Google AdWords or Analytics and see some great conversion data:

Your plans are working as you’d hoped.

But that doesn’t mean you can sit back and let the good times roll.

Sure, you can do that for a little bit. But over time, as markets, tactics, and consumers shift, you’ve gotta take an active role in managing campaigns.

Adjust based on trends.

A great way to do this is by analyzing specific topics on Google Trends:

Or even keeping up to date with the latest studies on popular marketing tactics by conducting a basic Google search:

Stay up-to-date with market movement and look at the underlying trends or patterns. Because when people are blogging about it, tweeting it, favoriting it, or liking it, it’s already too late.

Be Cautious in a Bull Market

When everything is running smoothly, it’s referred to as a bull market.

Investor confidence and financial optimism are at an all-time high.

On the surface, everything is running like a well-oiled machine.

Unemployment is low. The economy’s GDP is growing steadily. Stocks are rising.

And your marketing tactics are getting more traction.

But with all of this surface-based optimism comes serious potential side effects:

It now becomes difficult to predict potential shifts and trends or when tactics might change.

Facebook’s organic reach was booming just a few years ago. Until, of course, it didn’t.

Image Source

Now? Good luck. We’ve crapped out.

There is actually a pretty easy explanation for it. Simple supply vs. demand.

User growth is slowing while the number of content pieces has exploded exponentially. Too much supply, not enough demand.

Guess what’s going to repeat now on Instagram?

Right now it’s the place to be for your content. Just give it a minute.

And don’t get swept up by the bull market.

Find your own Big Short

Have you ever seen The Big Short?

If not, I highly recommend it. It’s a great movie.

Not just because it’s an incredible, intense account of the 2005 housing crisis.

Mainly because it features Steve Carell:

via GIPHY

Inspirational as always, Prison Mike.

In all seriousness, it’s a great movie that heavily relates to digital marketing.

The main concept of the movie was based on the true story of Michael Burry, a hedge fund manager who shorted the housing crisis of 2005.

He believed there was a housing bubble, leading him to short sell and bet against the banks who thought he was a chump, taking his deals like candy.

The idea of short selling is motivated by the belief that a security’s price will decline, enabling it to be bought back at a lower price point for maximum profit.

And people thought Michael (Burry, not Prison) was insane.

Who in their right mind bets against the housing market when prices are nearly doubling year after year?

But Burry noticed a few troubling trends. He saw that subprime home loans were in danger of defaulting. And many adjustable rate mortgages with balloon payments were all adjusting around the same time.

He decided to throw more than one billion dollars into credit default swaps.

It’s safe to say that the banks weren’t too happy in the end.

Here’s the moral of the story:

Very few people believed him. But Burry discovered the mystical unicorn that most marketers strive to find.

The main point as it relates to marketing campaigns is this:

You need to find your own big short.

Your own diamond in the rough that you can tap into before anyone else.

Your own display ad invention that generates a 78% CTR.

Finding the tactic that brings your conversions up by 10x.

Sounds wonderful. But you know it’s not easy. Because it hasn’t been blogged about or shared at conferences just yet.

But examples of it do already exist in the marketing world today.

For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko raised the link-building bar with his skyscraper technique.

He took a spin on a classic link-building tactic that increased his search traffic by 110% in just two weeks.

Image Source

On top of a massive increase in traffic, he generated countless backlinks from thousands of different referring domains:

referring domains from backlinko blog postImage Source

He effectively took his link-building strategy to the next level by going against the grain.

He didn’t sit back and ride the wave of guest blogging or other outdated, declining strategies.

He found his own big short.

While small marketing tactics like A/B testing and creating new ads or creative for your campaigns is a step in the right direction, it isn’t the end-all-be-all. Small bets don’t move the needle.

They merely help you figure out if you’re on the right track (or not). And help to show you when it’s time to go all-in.

Conclusion

Managing marketing campaigns is a stressful task.

Big, splashy, high-budget campaigns have high expectations. Bosses and clients expect big, lofty performance to go with it.

Money can get away from you fast if you aren’t careful.

Even worse, you can get so caught up in data that you miss the right trends.

Trends that tell you which aspects of your campaign are winning and which are losing.

Instead of flying blind or crossing your fingers, think like a financial currency trader.

Analyze the data with a currency arbitrage mindset. Keep up with market movement by taking an active management role in your campaigns. Be cautious in a bull market when everyone’s saying the same things.

And don’t be afraid to bet big when the time comes.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

7 Questions to Ask Before Working With a Micro-Influencer

The way we ask for recommendations has evolved.

Whereas once upon a time we may have asked a neighbor to recommend a product or service, 47% of millennials now turn to social media for recommendations and reviews before deciding on a purchase.

But these consumers aren’t always going to the social media accounts of brands. Much of the time, they’re visiting the profiles of a special breed of social media personalities: influencers.

Consider this: Close to 40% of Twitter users alone have made a purchase as a result of influencer marketing — and that’s excluding the influence, if you will, of personalities on other channels, like Instagram.

And when we think of influencers, for many of us, A-list personalities and celebrities come to mind. Take Kylie Jenner, for example, who helped catapult the brand Fashion Nova into a favorite online retail brand.

 

#ad Obsessed with my new @fashionnova jeans 🍑Get them at FashionNova.com 😍

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Dec 27, 2016 at 6:57am PST

Sure, celebrities might significantly help boost your sales and achieve your marketing goals. But let’s face it: most of us can’t afford their price tags. After all, it’s reported that Kylie Jenner gets $400,000 for a single promotional Instagram post.

The good news is that marketers and startup business owners now have another option that will allow them to tap into the power of influencer marketing without putting their ROI in jeopardy.

This option comes in the form of a unique group of social media users collectively known as micro-influencers.

Why Use Micro-Influencers?

At first, opting to use micro-influencers for your marketing campaign may sound counterintuitive. Would it be more beneficial to tap an influencer with millions of followers, as opposed to getting a micro-influencer with just a few thousand followers?

Not necessarily.

That’s because when it comes to influencer marketing, the level of engagement is more crucial. It is one of the key metrics that will help you gauge the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaign.

In a study done by Markerly, a converse relationship was discovered between the number of followers an influencer has, and the level of engagement each post gets. In other words, as the number of followers increases, the engagement rate decreases.

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Source: Markerly

In its own study, Expercity found that micro-influencers not only generate 22.2X more conversion than the average social media user, but that 74% of them are rather direct in encouraging their followers to buy or try a product or service they’re endorsing. That communicates credibility and transparency, which can help to build a loyal following.

Cost is another reason why many brands are now turning to micro-influencers. According to a study done by Bloglovin’, 97% of micro-influencers charge $500 and below for a sponsored post on Instagram.

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Source: Influence

Additionally, 87% micro-influencers charge $500 and below for a sponsored blog post.

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Source: Influence

Finding the Right Micro-Influencer for Your Business

With so many micro-influencers out there, it’s no surprise that 73% of marketers point to finding the right one as one of their biggest challenges.

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Source: Econsultancy

Of course, you can choose to hire an influencer marketing agency to help you find the right micro-influencers for your campaign. But if you want to be more hands-on in finding the right micro-influencer, here are seven questions you’ll need to answer very carefully.

1. What are your goals?

The first thing to consider when finding the right micro-influencer is to look at what you’re aiming to achieve. Do you want to generate more leads for your business? If so, look for micro-influencers that frequently host contests or giveaways on their social media accounts — especially if they involve encouraging their followers to sign up in exchange for free trials, products or access to an exclusive event.

2. Who are the micro-influencer’s followers?

When reviewing the followers of the micro-influencer you want to reach, look at to how well they align with your brand’s buyer personas. Some of the things to consider are:

  • Where are the majority of the micro-influencers’ followers based (geographically)?
  • Are they mostly male or female?
  • Which type of posts resonates with them the most?

3. Is the micro-influencer already a fan?

Working with a micro-influencer that’s already using your product or service has several benefits. For starters, he or she might already be posting about your company and products — so a partnership is more natural and appears more genuine to followers.

Also, micro-influencers who are fans of your products and brand are more likely negotiate lower fees. Some may even be willing to collaborate with you in exchange for some free products or services.

One way to find these micro-influencers is to perform a general search for blog posts mentioning your brand. Since Google ranks sites based on content quality, there’s a good chance that the first two or three results belong to a micro-influencer in your niche.

Another is by using a tool like Gatsby.ai (which has an integration with HubSpot) to your website. Gatsby helps you search through your customer database for micro-influencers that have bought your products, and help you quickly retrieve their information so that you can reach out to them.

4. How engaged is the micro-influencer’s audience?

As I mentioned earlier, a micro-influencer’s engagement rate is one of the key metrics that will help you determine the success (or lack of it) of your influencer marketing campaign.

Review the social media accounts of the micro-influencer to see how many likes, comments, and shares each post gets. Although likes are good, I often recommend that my clients focus more on the number of comments and shares a post receives. That’s because it requires more effort for a follower to leave a comment on or share a post than it is to click on the like button. Often, followers will only leave comments when they find the post compelling enough for them do so.

5. What kind of content does the micro-influencer produce?

Micro-influencers create their posts based on their own brand and image they want to convey to their followers and compare this against the image you want your audience to associate with your brand. There must be alignment between your perceived brand image the micro-influencer’s, in order to ensure that the posts he or she creates for you don’t look like a mismatch. Followers tend not to appreciate that — after all, they follow this micro-influencer for relevant content.

6. Are they working with your competitors?

If you’re seriously considering using influencer marketing, there’s a chance that your competitors are also doing the same. Take some time to review the posts of the micro-influencers you want to work with, and see if they’ve worked with any of your direct or indirect competitors.

If so, how did the audience respond to the post? Was there anything mentioned by the micro-influencer about your competitors’ products that you can leverage?

7. How many platforms do they use?

Although 80% of micro-influencers point to Instagram as their preferred platform for creating and publishing content, many of them are equally active on their own blogs and in other social media channels. Some even have access to traditional media like TV and magazines. The more platforms a micro-influencer can use to promote your content, the better for you.

Not-Actually-the-Best Local SEO Practices

Posted by MiriamEllis

It’s never fun being the bearer of bad news.

You’re on the phone with an amazing prospect. Let’s say it’s a growing appliance sales and repair provider with 75 locations in the western US. Your agency would absolutely love to onboard this client, and the contact is telling you, with some pride, that they’re already ranking pretty well for about half of their locations.

With the right strategy, getting them the rest of the way there should be no problem at all.

But then you notice something, and your end of the phone conversation falls a little quiet as you click through from one of their Google My Business listings in Visalia to Streetview and see… not a commercial building, but a house. Uh-oh. In answer to your delicately worded question, you find out that 45 of this brand’s listings have been built around the private homes of their repairmen — an egregious violation of Google’s guidelines.

“I hate to tell you this…,” you clear your throat, and then you deliver the bad news.

marketingfoundations1.jpg

If you do in-house Local SEO, do it for clients, or even just answer questions in a forum, you’ve surely had the unenviable (yet vital) task of telling someone they’re “doing it wrong,” frequently after they’ve invested considerable resources in creating a marketing structure that threatens to topple due to a crack in its foundation. Sometimes you can patch the crack, but sometimes, whole edifices of bad marketing have to be demolished before safe and secure new buildings can be erected.

Here are 5 of the commonest foundational marketing mistakes I’ve encountered over the years as a Local SEO consultant and forum participant. If you run into these in your own work, you’ll be doing someone a big favor by delivering “the bad news” as quickly as possible:

1. Creating GMB listings at ineligible addresses

What you’ll hear:

“We need to rank for these other towns, because we want customers there. Well, no, we don’t really have offices there. We have P.O. Boxes/virtual offices/our employees’ houses.”

Why it’s a problem:

Google’s guidelines state:

  • Make sure that your page is created at your actual, real-world location
  • PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.
  • Service-area businesses—businesses that serve customers at their locations—should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point.

All of this adds up to Google saying you shouldn’t create a listing for anything other than a real-world location, but it’s extremely common to see a) spammers simply creating tons of listings for non-existent locations, b) people of good will not knowing the guidelines and doing the same thing, and c) service area businesses (SABs) feeling they have to create fake-location listings because Google won’t rank them for their service cities otherwise.

In all three scenarios, the brand puts itself at risk for detection and listing removal. Google can catch them, competitors and consumers can catch them, and marketers can catch them. Once caught, any effort that was put into ranking and building reputation around a fake-location listing is wasted. Better to have devoted resources to risk-free marketing efforts that will add up to something real.

What to do about it:

Advise the SAB owner to self-report the problem to Google. I know this sounds risky, but Google My Business forum Top Contributor Joy Hawkins let me know that she’s never seen a case in which Google has punished a business that self-reported accidental spam. The owner will likely need to un-verify the spam listings (see how to do that here) and then Google will likely remove the ineligible listings, leaving only the eligible ones intact.

What about dyed-in-the-wool spammers who know the guidelines and are violating them regardless, turning local pack results into useless junk? Get to the spam listing in Google Maps, click the “Suggest an edit” link, toggle the toggle to “Yes,” and choose the radio button for spam. Google may or may not act on your suggestion. If not, and the spam is misleading to consumers, I think it’s always a good idea to report it to the Google My Business forum in hopes that a volunteer Top Contributor may escalate an egregious case to a Google staffer.

2. Sharing phone numbers between multiple entities

What you’ll hear:

“I run both my dog walking service and my karate classes out of my house, but I don’t want to have to pay for two different phone lines.”

-or-

“Our restaurant has 3 locations in the city now, but we want all the calls to go through one number for reservation purposes. It’s just easier.”

-or-

“There are seven doctors at our practice. Front desk handles all calls. We can’t expect the doctors to answer their calls personally.”

Why it’s a problem:

There are actually multiple issues at hand on this one. First of all, Google’s guidelines state:

  • Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.
  • Use a local phone number instead of a central, call center helpline number whenever possible.
  • The phone number must be under the direct control of the business.

This rules out having the phone number of a single location representing multiple locations.

Confusing to Google

Google has also been known in the past to phone businesses for verification purposes. Should a business answer “Jim’s Dog Walking” when a Google rep is calling to verify that the phone number is associated with “Jim’s Karate Lessons,” we’re in trouble. Shared phone numbers have also been suspected in the past of causing accidental merging of Google listings, though I’ve not seen a case of this in a couple of years.

Confusing for businesses

As for the multi-practitioner scenario, the reality is that some business models simply don’t allow for practitioners to answer their own phones. Calls for doctors, dentists, attorneys, etc. are traditionally routed through a front desk. This reality calls into question whether forward-facing listings should be built for these individuals at all. We’ll dive deeper into this topic below, in the section on multi-practitioner listings.

Confusing for the ecosystem

Beyond Google-related concerns, Moz Local’s awesome engineers have taught me some rather amazing things about the problems shared phone numbers can create for citation-building campaigns in the greater ecosystem. Many local business data platforms are highly dependent on unique phone numbers as a signal of entity uniqueness (the “P” in NAP is powerful!). So, for example, if you submit both Jim’s Dog Walking and Jim’s Bookkeeping to Infogroup with the same number, Infogroup may publish both listings, but leave the phone number fields blank! And without a phone number, a local business listing is pretty worthless.

It’s because of realities like these that a unique phone number for each entity is a requirement of the Moz Local product, and should be a prerequisite for any citation building campaign.

What to do about it:

Let the business owner know that a unique phone number for each business entity, each business location, and each forward-facing practitioner who wants to be listed is a necessary business expense (and, hey, likely tax deductible, too!). Once the investment has been made in the unique numbers, the work ahead involves editing all existing citations to reflect them. The free tool Moz Check Listing can help you instantly locate existing citations for the purpose of creating a spreadsheet that details the bad data, allowing you to start correcting it manually. Or, to save time, the business owner may wish to invest in a paid, automated citation correction product like Moz Local.

Pro tip: Apart from removing local business listing stumbling blocks, unique phone numbers have an added bonus in that they enable the benefits of associating KPIs like clicks-to-call to a given entity, and existing numbers can be ported into call tracking numbers for even further analysis of traffic and conversions. You just can’t enjoy these benefits if you lump multiple entities together under a single, shared number.

3. Keyword stuffing GMB listing names

What you’ll hear:

“I have 5 locations in Dallas. How are my customers supposed to find the right one unless I add the neighborhood name to the business name on the listings?”

-or-

“We want customers to know we do both acupuncture and massage, so we put both in the listing name.”

-or-

“Well, no, the business name doesn’t actually have a city name in it, but my competitors are adding city names to their GMB listings and they’re outranking me!”

Why it’s a problem:

Long story short, it’s a blatant violation of Google’s guidelines to put extraneous keywords in the business name field of a GMB listing. Google states:

  • Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers.
  • Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended.

What to do about it:

I consider this a genuine Local SEO toughie. On the one hand, Google’s lack of enforcement of these guidelines, and apparent lack of concern about the whole thing, makes it difficult to adequately alarm business owners about the risk of suspension. I’ve successfully reported keyword stuffing violations to Google and have had them act on my reports within 24 hours… only to have the spammy names reappear hours or days afterwards. If there’s a suspension of some kind going on here, I don’t see it.

Simultaneously, Google’s local algo apparently continues to be influenced by exact keyword matches. When a business owner sees competitors outranking him via outlawed practices which Google appears to ignore, the Local SEO may feel slightly idiotic urging guideline-compliance from his patch of shaky ground.

But, do it anyway. For two reasons:

  1. If you’re not teaching business owners about the importance of brand building at this point, you’re not really teaching marketing. Ask the owner, “Are you into building a lasting brand, or are you hoping to get by on tricks?” Smart owners (and their marketers) will see that it’s a more legitimate strategy to build a future based on earning permanent local brand recognition for Lincoln & Herndon, than for Springfield Car Accident Slip and Fall Personal Injury Lawyers Attorneys.
  2. I find it interesting that, in all of Google’s guidelines, the word “suspended” is used only a few times, and one of these rare instances relates to spamming the business title field. In other words, Google is using the strongest possible language to warn against this practice, and that makes me quite nervous about tying large chunks of reputation and rankings to a tactic against which Google has forewarned. I remember that companies were doing all kinds of risky things on the eve of the Panda and Penguin updates and they woke up to a changed webscape in which they were no longer winners. Because of this, I advocate alerting any business owner who is risking his livelihood to chancy shortcuts. Better to build things for real, for the long haul.

Fortunately, it only takes a few seconds to sign into a GMB account and remove extraneous keywords from a business name. If it needs to be done at scale for large multi-location enterprises across the major aggregators, Moz Local can get the job done. Will removing spammy keywords from the GMB listing title cause the business to move down in Google’s local rankings? It’s possible that they will, but at least they’ll be able to go forward building real stuff, with the moral authority to report rule-breaking competitors and keep at it until Google acts.

And tell owners not to worry about Google not being able to sort out a downtown location from an uptown one for consumers. Google’s ability to parse user proximity is getting better every day. Mobile-local packs prove this out. If one location is wrongly outranking another, chances are good the business needs to do an audit to discover weaknesses that are holding the more appropriate listing back. That’s real strategy – no tricks!

4. Creating a multi-site morass

What you’ll hear:

“So, to cover all 3 or our locations, we have greengrocerysandiego.com, greengrocerymonterey.com and greengrocerymendocino.com… but the problem is, the content on the three sites is kind of all the same. What should we do to make the sites different?”

-or-

“So, to cover all of our services, we have jimsappliancerepair.com, jimswashingmachinerepair.com, jimsdryerrepair.com, jimshotwaterheaterrepair.com, jimsrefrigeratorrepair.com. We’re about to buy jimsvacuumrepair.com … but the problem is, there’s not much content on any of these sites. It feels like management is getting out of hand.”

Why it’s a problem:

Definitely a frequent topic in SEO forums, the practice of relying on exact match domains (EMDs) proliferates because of Google’s historic bias in their favor. The ranking influence of EMDs has been the subject of a Google updateand has lessened over time. I wouldn’t want to try to rank for competitive terms with creditcards.com or insurance.com these days.

But if you believe EMDs no longer work in the local-organic world, read this post in which a fellow’s surname/domain name gets mixed up with a distant city name and he ends up ranking in the local packs for it! Chances are, you see weak EMDs ranking all the time for your local searches — more’s the pity. And, no doubt, this ranking boost is the driving force behind local business models continuing to purchase multiple keyword-oriented domains to represent branches of their company or the variety of services they offer. This approach is problematic for 3 chief reasons:

  1. It’s impractical. The majority of the forum threads I’ve encountered in which small-to-medium local businesses have ended up with two, or five, or ten domains invariably lead to the discovery that the websites are made up of either thin or duplicate content. Larger enterprises are often guilty of the same. What seemed like a great idea at first, buying up all those EMDs, turns into an unmanageable morass of web properties that no one has the time to keep updated, to write for, or to market.
  2. Specific to the multi-service business, it’s not a smart move to put single-location NAP on multiple websites. In other words, if your construction firm is located at 123 Main Street in Funky Town, but consumers and Google are finding that same physical address associated with fences.com, bathroomremodeling.com, decks.com, and kitchenremodeling.com, you are sowing confusion in the ecosystem. Which is the authoritative business associated with that address? Some business owners further compound problems by assuming they can then build separate sets of local business listings for each of these different service-oriented domains, violating Google’s guidelines, which state:

    Do not create more than one page for each location of your business.

    The whole thing can become a giant mess, instead of the clean, manageable simplicity of a single brand, tied to a single domain, with a single NAP signal.

  1. With rare-to-nonexistent exceptions, I consider EMDs to be missed opportunities for brand building. Imagine, if instead of being Whole Foods at WholeFoods.com, the natural foods giant had decided they needed to try to squeeze a ranking boost out of buying 400+ domains to represent the eventual number of locations they now operate. WholeFoodsDallas.com, WholeFoodsMississauga.com, etc? Such an approach would get out of hand very fast.

Even the smallest businesses should take cues from big commerce. Your brand is the magic password you want on every consumer’s lips, associated with every service you offer, in every location you open. As I recently suggested to a Moz community member, be proud to domain your flower shop as rossirovetti.com instead of hoping FloralDelivery24hoursSanFrancisco.com will boost your rankings. It’s authentic, easy to remember, looks trustworthy in the SERPs, and is ripe for memorable brand building.

What to do about it:

While I can’t speak to the minutiae of every single scenario, I’ve yet to be part of a discussion about multi-sites in the Local SEO community in which I didn’t advise consolidation. Basically, the business should choose a single, proud domain and, in most cases, 301 redirect the old sites to the main one, then work to get as many external links that pointed to the multi-sites to point to the chosen main site. This oldie but goodie from the Moz blog provides a further technical checklist from a company that saw a 40% increase in traffic after consolidating domains. I’d recommend that any business that is nervous about handling the tech aspects of consolidation in-house should hire a qualified SEO to help them through the process.

5. Creating ill-considered practitioner listings

What you’ll hear:

“We have 5 dentists at the practice, but one moved/retired last month and we don’t know what to do with the GMB listing for him.”

-or-

“Dr. Green is outranking the practice in the local results for some reason, and it’s really annoying.”

Why it’s a problem:

I’ve saved the most complex for last! Multi-practitioner listings can be a blessing, but they’re so often a bane that my position on creating them has evolved to a point where I only recommend building them in specific cases.

When Google first enabled practitioner listings (listings that represent each doctor, lawyer, dentist, or agent within a business) I saw them as a golden opportunity for a given practice to dominate local search results with its presence. However, Google’s subsequent unwillingness to simply remove practitioner duplicates, coupled with the rollout of the Possum update which filters out shared category/similar location listings, coupled with the number of instances I’ve seen in which practitioner listings end up outranking brand listings, has caused me to change my opinion of their benefits. I should also add that the business title field on practitioner listings is a hotbed of Google guideline violations — few business owners have ever read Google’s nitty gritty rules about how to name these types of listings.

In a nutshell, practitioner listings gone awry can result in a bunch of wrongly-named listings often clouded by duplicates that Google won’t remove, all competing for the same keywords. Not good!

What to do about it:

You’ll have multiple scenarios to address when offering advice about this topic.

1.) If the business is brand new, and there is no record of it on the Internet as of yet, then I would only recommend creating practitioner listings if it is necessary to point out an area of specialization. So, for example if a medical practice has 5 MDs, the listing for the practice covers that, with no added listings needed. But, if a medical practice has 5 MDs and an Otolaryngologist, it may be good marketing to give the specialist his own listing, because it has its own GMB category and won’t be competing with the practice for rankings. *However, read on to understand the challenges being undertaken any time a multi-practitioner listing is created.

2.) If the multi-practitioner business is not new, chances are very good that there are listings out there for present, past, and even deceased practitioners.

  • If a partner is current, be sure you point his listing at a landing page on the practice’s website, instead of at the homepage, see if you can differentiate categories, and do your utmost to optimize the practice’s own listing — the point here is to prevent practitioners from outranking the practice. What do I mean by optimization? Be sure the practice’s GMB listing is fully filled out, you’ve got amazing photos, you’re actively earning and responding to reviews, you’re publishing a Google Post at least once a week, and your citations across the web are consistent. These things should all strengthen the listing for the practice.
  • If a partner is no longer with the practice, it’s ideal to unverify the listing and ask Google to market it as moved to the practice — not to the practitioner’s new location. Sound goofy? Read Joy Hawkins’ smart explanation of this convoluted issue.
  • If, sadly, a practitioner has passed away, contact Google to show them an obituary so that the listing can be removed.
  • If a listing represents what is actually a solo practitioner (instead of a partner in a multi-practitioner business model) and his GMB listing is now competing with the listing for his business, you can ask Google to merge the two listings.

3.) If a business wants to create practitioner listings, and they feel up to the task of handling any ranking or situational management concerns, there is one final proviso I’d add. Google’s guidelines state that practitioners should be “directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours” in order to qualify for a GMB listing. I’ve always found this requirement rather vague. Contactable by phone? Contactable in person? Google doesn’t specify. Presumably, a real estate agent in a multi-practitioner agency might be directly contactable, but as my graphic above illustrates, we wouldn’t really expect the same public availability of a surgeon, right? Point being, it may only make marketing sense to create a practitioner listing for someone who needs to be directly available to the consumer public for the business to function. I consider this a genuine grey area in the guidelines, so think it through carefully before acting.

Giving good help

It’s genuinely an honor to advise owners and marketers who are strategizing for the success of local businesses. In our own small way, local SEO consultants live in the neighborhood Mister Rogers envisioned in which you could look for the helpers when confronted with trouble. Given the livelihoods dependent on local commerce, rescuing a company from a foundational marketing mistake is satisfying work for people who like to be “helpers,” and it carries a weight of responsibility.

I’ve worked in 3 different SEO forums over the past 10+ years, and I’d like to close with some things I’ve learned about helping:

  1. Learn to ask the right questions. Small nuances in business models and scenarios can necessitate completely different advice. Don’t be scared to come back with second and third rounds of follow-up queries if someone hasn’t provided sufficient detail for you to advise them well. Read all details thoroughly before replying.
  2. Always, always consult Google’s guidelines, and link to them in your answers. It’s absolutely amazing how few owners and marketers have ever encountered them. Local SEOs are volunteer liaisons between Google and businesses. That’s just the way things have worked out.
  3. Don’t say you’re sure unless you’re really sure. If a forum or client question necessitates a full audit to surface a useful answer, say so. Giving pat answers to complicated queries helps no one, and can actually hurt businesses by leaving them in limbo, losing money, for an even longer time.
  4. Network with colleagues when weird things come up. Ranking drops can be attributed to new Google updates, or bugs, or other factors you haven’t yet noticed but that a trusted peer may have encountered.
  5. Practice humility. 90% of what I know about Local SEO, I’ve learned from people coming to me with problems for which, at some point, I had to discover answers. Over time, the work put in builds up our store of ready knowledge, but we will never know it all, and that’s humbling in a very good way. Community members and clients are our teachers. Let’s be grateful for them, and treat them with respect.
  6. Finally, don’t stress about delivering “the bad news” when you see someone who is asking for help making a marketing mistake. In the long run, your honesty will be the best gift you could possibly have given.

Happy helping!

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3 Ways Working a Job You Hate Can Benefit Your Career

“We’ll miss you, Cliff.” said Andy, my manager. His face looked long when he was sad. We were both working for a company that just experienced a major product failure, and, unfortunately, it prompted a massive round of layoffs. Since I was just an intern, Andy left the decision to leave or stay up to me.

I decided to leave.

“I’ll miss you guys, too,” I replied. “Thanks again for the opportunity. Let me know what you end up doing after all this chaos dies down.” We both shook hands. “Will do,” he responded. “Keep in touch, Cliff.”

After I packed up my things and said goodbye to the remaining employees, I headed out the office and into the elevator.

As soon as the doors closed, a feeling of liberation washed over me. I let out a booming “Yes!”, followed by a triumphant fist pump. I was finally out of that place. I had dreaded going to work everyday. At the same time, though, I felt a little regretful.

I realized I had essentially just wasted two months of precious internship experience. The company had fired their entire marketing team a week before I started, so I was the only marketer in the office. There was no one to learn from, and I barely had anything to do. Half my time was dedicated to playing ping pong and watching office drama escalate on Slack. Amusing for sure, but not really beneficial for my skillset.

My colleagues jokingly called me “CMO Intern”, but I didn’t think it was funny. If I was the only marketer at the company, who was going to mentor me? And how was I going to develop my skills? It was one of the most frustrating few months of my life.

But even after the pang of regret I felt walking out, I would do it all over again. I’m glad I accepted that internship. I didn’t gain the valuable marketing experience I was expecting, but I did walk away with some surprising career lessons. And without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now, working a job I love

If you currently have a job you’re not too fond of, don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all been there. It hurts, but your suffering will help you figure out what you actually want from your career.

A lot of times, working a job you hate can actually lead you to the one you love. Read on to find out how.

3 Ways Having a Job You Hate Can Benefit Your Career

1) You’ll figure out what you like to do — and what you don’t like to do.

There are a lot of variables that influence your satisfaction at work. And sometimes, you won’t discover what you actually like doing until you figure out what you really don’t like doing.

If you can identify your favorite and least favorite aspects about your current job, you’ll know exactly what to look for in your next job. Ask yourself the following questions to learn more about your personal work preferences:

Do you like your role/department? If you just jumped into a new role or department and you realize you aren’t really enjoying it, then it might be worth exploring different career path entirely. You should also reflect on your favorite aspects about your previous and current jobs, and pursue opportunities that let you do those things.

Is the company too big or too small? -Do you find solace in the financial stability and stockpile of benefits an enterprise company provides? Or do you prefer the passion and hustle it takes to build a startup? Or maybe you favor a blend of the two, at a medium-sized company? If you feel like your current company doesn’t have enough resources to support your growth, then maybe a bigger company is better for you. If your company isn’t challenging you enough, then you could pursue opportunities at a smaller company, where you’ll get more responsibility.

Are you genuinely interested in your company’s industry? When you write blog posts about your company’s industry all day, it’s a lot more enjoyable if you actually like learning about the subject matter (trust me on this one). Work becomes a chore when these topics don’t pique your interest. Whether you work in marketing, sales, product, engineering, or support, if you’re not excited about your company’s industry, it’s tough to stay engaged and satisfied at work. Try pursuing a job in an industry that you’re passionate about, even if it means taking a lesser role or making a lateral move.

Do you feel supported by the company’s culture? Does work run your life? Is the office cliquey? Do people appreciate your work, or does your manager take all of the credit? If you don’t like these things (most people don’t), then you’re better off at a company that treats their employees well. Use Glassdoor to read a company’s employee reviews and evaluate their culture.

2) You’ll learn to appreciate your worth.

When you work for a sub-optimal company, team, or manager, you’ll notice they either don’t give you fulfilling work or don’t know how to leverage your skill set to its full potential. This makes you feel misunderstood or undervalued, and work becomes incredibly frustrating.

But their neglect also teaches you how to gauge your professional value. It helps you recognize your needs and capabilities. By honing your self-awareness, you can determine whether upcoming job opportunities are worth it or not and trade up for the best fit job in the future.

3) You’ll learn how to persevere through tough times — and appreciate the good times even more.

A lot of times, getting better at your passion requires you to do the challenging things instead of the enjoyable things, like polishing a blog post in lieu of a post-work gathering.

In your career, you’ll encounter times where you absolutely hate your job. But if you can persevere and produce results in a less-than-ideal situation, then you’ll enhance your work ethic and truly crush it when your morale is much higher in an ideal situation.

A couple of years ago, I camped out in Florida’s Everglades for nine days, where I paddled over 100 miles through alligator infested waters and only ate dehydrated food.

When my trip ended, I was so grateful to be back in civilization (and safe from alligators). I almost forgot what living in a city was like. But the thing I looked forward to the most was eating a real meal. My friends and I all agreed we would stop at the first restaurant we saw, so when we spotted a Subway, we immediately halted. I ordered a chicken bacon ranch sub, and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I ate another one later that day too.

Losing access to everyday things like normal food, electricity, and community has made me incredibly grateful for them.And I try not to take them for granted anymore, which makes me happier in life. This phenomenon can also happen when your current job situation is less than ideal. You’ll be grateful for the privileges you might not have anymore, and when you exchange that dreaded job for your dream one, you definitely won’t take its perks for granted, enhancing your gratitude, happiness, and performance at work.

A job you hate doesn’t have to be a waste of time.

It’s inevitable, at some point in our lives, we’ll all have a job that we hate. But if you can view this experience as a life lesson and discover what you actually want out of your career, then there’s a good chance the job you hate will eventually lead you to the one you love.

What Do Google’s New, Longer Snippets Mean for SEO? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Snippets and meta descriptions have brand-new character limits, and it’s a big change for Google and SEOs alike. Learn about what’s new, when it changed, and what it all means for SEO in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.

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What do Google's now, longer snippets mean for SEO?

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about Google’s big change to the snippet length.

This is the display length of the snippet for any given result in the search results that Google provides. This is on both mobile and desktop. It sort of impacts the meta description, which is how many snippets are written. They’re taken from the meta description tag of the web page. Google essentially said just last week, “Hey, we have officially increased the length, the recommended length, and the display length of what we will show in the text snippet of standard organic results.”

So I’m illustrating that for you here. I did a search for “net neutrality bill,” something that’s on the minds of a lot of Americans right now. You can see here that this article from The Hill, which is a recent article — it was two days ago — has a much longer text snippet than what we would normally expect to find. In fact, I went ahead and counted this one and then showed it here.

So basically, at the old 165-character limit, which is what you would have seen prior to the middle of December on most every search result, occasionally Google would have a longer one for very specific kinds of search results, but more than 90%, according to data from SISTRIX, which put out a great report and I’ll link to it here, more than 90% of search snippets were 165 characters or less prior to the middle of November. Then Google added basically a few more lines.

So now, on mobile and desktop, instead of an average of two or three lines, we’re talking three, four, five, sometimes even six lines of text. So this snippet here is 266 characters that Google is displaying. The next result, from Save the Internet, is 273 characters. Again, this might be because Google sort of realized, “Hey, we almost got all of this in here. Let’s just carry it through to the end rather than showing the ellipsis.” But you can see that 165 characters would cut off right here. This one actually does a good job of displaying things.

So imagine a searcher is querying for something in your field and they’re just looking for a basic understanding of what it is. So they’ve never heard of net neutrality. They’re not sure what it is. So they can read here, “Net neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down, or blocking any . . .” And that’s where it would cut off. Or that’s where it would have cut off in November.

Now, if I got a snippet like that, I need to visit the site. I’ve got to click through in order to learn more. That doesn’t tell me enough to give me the data to go through. Now, Google has tackled this before with things, like a featured snippet, that sit at the top of the search results, that are a more expansive short answer. But in this case, I can get the rest of it because now, as of mid-November, Google has lengthened this. So now I can get, “Any content, applications, or websites you want to use. Net neutrality is the way that the Internet has always worked.”

Now, you might quibble and say this is not a full, thorough understanding of what net neutrality is, and I agree. But for a lot of searchers, this is good enough. They don’t need to click any more. This extension from 165 to 275 or 273, in this case, has really done the trick.

What changed?

So this can have a bunch of changes to SEO too. So the change that happened here is that Google updated basically two things. One, they updated the snippet length, and two, they updated their guidelines around it.

So Google’s had historic guidelines that said, well, you want to keep your meta description tag between about 160 and 180 characters. I think that was the number. They’ve updated that to where they say there’s no official meta description recommended length. But on Twitter, Danny Sullivan said that he would probably not make that greater than 320 characters. In fact, we and other data providers, that collect a lot of search results, didn’t find many that extended beyond 300. So I think that’s a reasonable thing.

When?

When did this happen? It was starting at about mid-November. November 22nd is when SISTRIX’s dataset starts to notice the increase, and it was over 50%. Now it’s sitting at about 51% of search results that have these longer snippets in at least 1 of the top 10 as of December 2nd.

Here’s the amazing thing, though — 51% of search results have at least one. Many of those, because they’re still pulling old meta descriptions or meta descriptions that SEO has optimized for the 165-character limit, are still very short. So if you’re the person in your search results, especially it’s holiday time right now, lots of ecommerce action, if you’re the person to go update your important pages right now, you might be able to get more real estate in the search results than any of your competitors in the SERPs because they’re not updating theirs.

How will this affect SEO?

So how is this going to really change SEO? Well, three things:

A. It changes how marketers should write and optimize the meta description.

We’re going to be writing a little bit differently because we have more space. We’re going to be trying to entice people to click, but we’re going to be very conscientious that we want to try and answer a lot of this in the search result itself, because if we can, there’s a good chance that Google will rank us higher, even if we’re actually sort of sacrificing clicks by helping the searcher get the answer they need in the search result.

B. It may impact click-through rate.

We’ll be looking at Jumpshot data over the next few months and year ahead. We think that there are two likely ways they could do it. Probably negatively, meaning fewer clicks on less complex queries. But conversely, possible it will get more clicks on some more complex queries, because people are more enticed by the longer description. Fingers crossed, that’s kind of what you want to do as a marketer.

C. It may lead to lower click-through rate further down in the search results.

If you think about the fact that this is taking up the real estate that was taken up by three results with two, as of a month ago, well, maybe people won’t scroll as far down. Maybe the ones that are higher up will in fact draw more of the clicks, and thus being further down on page one will have less value than it used to.

What should SEOs do?

What are things that you should do right now? Number one, make a priority list — you should probably already have this — of your most important landing pages by search traffic, the ones that receive the most search traffic on your website, organic search. Then I would go and reoptimize those meta descriptions for the longer limits.

Now, you can judge as you will. My advice would be go to the SERPs that are sending you the most traffic, that you’re ranking for the most. Go check out the limits. They’re probably between about 250 and 300, and you can optimize somewhere in there.

The second thing I would do is if you have internal processes or your CMS has rules around how long you can make a meta description tag, you’re going to have to update those probably from the old limit of somewhere in the 160 to 180 range to the new 230 to 320 range. It doesn’t look like many are smaller than 230 now, at least limit-wise, and it doesn’t look like anything is particularly longer than 320. So somewhere in there is where you’re going to want to stay.

Good luck with your new meta descriptions and with your new snippet optimization. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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65 Photoshop Shortcuts to Help You Edit Photos Like a Pro [Bookmarkable]

Have you ever accidentally wasted an entire day in Photoshop?

I have. It’s not like you start out aimlessly. You have a simple goal in mind, like cropping a photo, improving the resolution, or changing the size of the canvas. But then, you look at how many options there are — and trying to figure out which buttons to press to execute a single task suddenly turns into an attempt to solve The Riddle of the Sphinx.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just press a button, and magically, do what you wanted to do? Well, we’ve got good news for you: It turns out there are a wealth of Photoshop shortcuts that pretty much work just that way.

By pressing a few keys on your computer keyboard at the same time, you can select tools, manipulate images and layers, and even make adjustments to your project’s canvas. But if we’re being honest, if you’re just starting out with the software, there might be far too many Photoshop shortcuts to remember them all. That’s why we created this guide — for you to bookmark and return to next time your design project leaves you stumped.

Note: All of these shortcuts can be accessed on PC and Mac, but sometimes, they’re different on each operating system. We’ve included both types below, and in the cases where they might be different, Mac instructions appear in italicized parentheses. Also, in these formulas, the plus sign (+) is present only to represent the combination of key commands. On occasion, it might be part of the command itself, like when you press the plus sign to zoom into a part of an image, but otherwise, don’t press the plus sign between commands.

Getting Set Up

You’d think setting up your content in Photoshop would be second nature. But sometimes, the shortcuts to change the background size, or zoom into your project aren’t what you think. Here are some of the most crucial fundamental shortcuts to know:

1) Control + Alt + i (Command + Option + i ) = Change the image size.

2) Control + Alt + c (Command + Option + c ) = Change canvas size.

3) Control + + (Command + + ) = Zoom in.

4) Control + – (Command +) = Zoom out.

Control + ‘ (Command + ) = Show or hide the grid, the automatically-generated horizontal and vertical lines that help align objects to the canvas.

Choosing the Right Tools

These shortcuts will activate different groups of tools, like “Lasso,” “Brush,” or “Spot Healing Brush.” Within these tools, though, there are different functions. Under the “Magic Wand” tool group, for example, you have the option to execute a new selection or add and subtract from a current one.

Each one of these tools has a keyboard shortcut, and we’ve outlined some of them below.

5) v = Pointer, a.k.a. Move Tool pointer-tool.png 

6) w = Magic Wand magic-wand-tool.png

7) m = Rectangular Marquee, a.k.a. the Select Tool marquee-tool-1.png

8) l = Lasso lasso-tool.png

9) i = Eyedropper eyedropper-tool.png

10) c = Crop Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.09.20 PM.png

11) e = Eraser Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.21.32 PM.png

12) u = Rectangle rectangle-tool.png

13) t = Horizontal Type text-tool.png

14) b = Brush Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.15.15 PM.png

15) y = History Brush history-brush-tool.png

16) j = Spot Healing Brush spot-healing-tool.png

17) g = Gradient Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.14.32 PM.png

18) a = Path Selection path-selection-tool.png

19) h = Hand hand-tool.png

20) r = Rotate View rotate-view-tool.png

21) p = Pen pen-tool.png

22) s = Clone Stamp clone-stamp-tool.png

23) o = Dodge Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.16.48 PM.png

24) z = Zoom Tool zoom-tool.png

25) d = Default Foreground and Background Colors Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.23.24 PM.png

26) x = Switch Foreground and Background Colors Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.25.24 PM.png

27) q = Edit in Quick Mask Mode Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.26.26 PM.png

28) x = Change Screen Mode Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 12.27.48 PM.png

Using the Brush Tool

With the brush settings, you can change the size, shape, and transparency of your brush strokes to achieve a number of different visual effects. To use these keyboard shortcuts, first select the Brush tool by pressing b. brush-tool.png

29) , or . = Select previous or next brush style.

30) Shift + , or . = Select first or last brush style used.

31) Caps Lock or Shift + Caps Lock (Caps Lock) = Display precise crosshair for brushes.

32) Shift + Alt + p (Shift + Option + p) = Toggle airbrush option.

Using the Marquee Tool (for Slicing/Selecting)

When used correctly, the marquee tool will let you select individual elements, entire graphics, and determine what is copied, cut, and pasted into your graphics.

To use these keyboard shortcuts, first select the Marquee tool by pressing m. marquee-tool-2.png

33) Control (Command) = Toggle between Slice tool and Slice Selection tool.

34) Shift + drag = Draw square slice.

35) Alt + drag (Option + drag) = Draw from center outward.

36) Shift + alt + drag (Shift + option + drag) = Draw square slice from center outward.

37) Spacebar + drag = Reposition the slice while creating the slice.

Using Different Blending Options

Blending options include a number of features to enhance the look of your graphic. You can always choose a blending option by going to the top menu bar, under Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Or, you can double-click any layer to bring up the options for that particular layer.

Once you open blending options, you can use keyboard shortcuts to select them without moving your mouse. To use the shortcuts, select the Move tool (“v“), and then select the layer you’d like to use the blending options on. Below are some of the most popular modes.

38) Shift + + or= Cycle through blending modes.

39) Shift + Alt + n (Shift + Option + n) = Normal mode

40) Shift + Alt + i (Shift + Option + i) = Dissolve

41) Shift + Alt + k (Shift + Option + k) = Darken

42) Shift + Alt + g (Shift + Option + g) = Lighten

43) Shift + Alt + m (Shift + Option + m) = Multiply

44) Shift + Alt + o (Shift + Option + o) = Overlay

45) Shift + Alt + u (Shift + Option + u) = Hue

46) Shift + Alt + t (Shift + Option + t) = Saturation

47) Shift + Alt + y (Shift + Option + y) = Luminosity

For more niche blending shortcuts, check out these tips from Adobe.

Manipulating Layers & Objects

If you want to modify an object or get complex with multiple layers, here are some shortcuts you might like to know:

48) Control + a (Command + a ) = Select all objects

49) Control + d (Command + d ) = Deselect all objects

50) Shift + Control + i (Shift + Command + i ) = Select the inverse of the selected objects

51) Control + Alt + a (Command + Option + a) = Select all layers

52) Control + Shift + E (Command + Shift + e) = Merge all layers

53) Alt + . (Option + .) = Select top layer

54) Alt + , (Option + ,) = Select bottom layer

Note: In shortcuts 55-57, the brackets ([ ]) are the keystrokes in the command, and “OR” refers to the actual word — as in, press one bracket OR the other, not the letters “o” and “r.”

55) Alt + [ OR ] (Option + [ OR ]) = Select next layer down or up

56) Control + [ OR ] (Command + [ OR ]) = Move target layer down or up

57) Control + Shift + [ OR ] (Command + Shift + [ OR ]) = Move layer to the bottom or top

58) Shift + Control + n (Shift + Command + n) = Create a new layer

59) Control + g (Command + g) = Group selected layers

60) Control + Shift + g (Command + Shift + g) = Ungroup selected layers

61) Control + e (Command + e) = Merge and flatten selected layers

62) Control + Shift + Alt + e (Command + Shift + Option + e) = Combine all layers into a new layer on top of the other layers. Note: This step gets you one, combined layer, with all elements of that layer in separate layers below — which is different than a traditional merge-and-flatten layers command.

63) Control + t (Command + t) = Transform your object, which includes resizing and rotating

And Finally — Save Your Work for Later

Congratulations — you’ve finished working on your project, and now, you want to share it with the world. Save time saving your project by using these simple shortcuts:

64) Control + Shift + s (Command + Shift + s) = Save your work as …

65) Control + Shift + Alt + s (Command + Shift + Option + s) = Save for web and devices