The 8 Best Content Marketing Companies of 2020

Research from Demand Metric shows content marketing costs 62 percent less but produces three times as many leads as traditional marketing. This is no surprise when you realize 70 percent of people would prefer to learn about a company through an article rather than advertising. 

Content marketing can generate huge amounts of traffic, leads, and sales for your business. If you’re a company looking to get started with content marketing, this can be tough. 

The 8 Best Content Marketing Companies of 2020

What kind of content do your customers want from you? Is that the same kind of content that creates revenue for your business? Today we’ll take a look at the best content marketing companies in the industry. 

1. NP Digital – Best for Immediate and Consistent Revenue Growth

NP Digital is my content marketing company. Working with Mike Kamo, we created NP Digital to serve the millions of people who needed help with their content marketing. 

No matter which business I was working on — Kissmetrics, CrazyEgg, Quicksprout — there were always a ton of people reaching out to me, people who needed help with their advertising and content marketing campaigns. Long time readers on my site know that I focused on revenue. 

Rankings are important, but many marketers still focus obsessively on keywords and content that doesn’t lead to revenue. I’ve always focused on helping readers build a business that generates traffic, leads, and, most importantly, revenue. 

Another thing that’s different about NP Digital is the fact that we don’t separate technical SEO from content marketing. SEO — technical, on-page, off-page, local, etc. it’s always a package deal with content marketing. This means the content we create for our clients automatically performs well with Google, there’s no extra work required. 

NP Digital is my way of helping everyone achieve the revenue and growth they deserve in their business. 

NP Digital’s client list includes:

  • Facebook
  • Viacom
  • Google
  • GM
  • eBay
  • NBC
  • Thomson Reuters foundation
  • TechCrunch
  • Cheezburger
  • American Greetings

2. Seer Interactive – Best for Big Data Search and Content

Wil Reynolds founded Seer interactive, which got its start as a search engine optimization company. What makes Seer one of the best content marketing companies on our list is its focus and emphasis on big data. 

Using a combination of in-house and third-party tools, they’ve built a massive data warehouse using an unbelievable amount of data to identify new, hidden, and unexpected customer trends. For example, Seer Interactive can instantly look across 20 million keywords, analyzing data from a variety of different angles. It created a big query environment with 202 million SERP data records. 

If you’re in a competitive or cutthroat industry (e.g., finance, banking, or mortgages), this data is what you need to stay ahead of your competitors.

With Seer Interactive, their approach is SEO heavy. That should be an important priority for every company, whether you’re big or small, but not every company is ready for Big Data.

Seer Interactive’s client list includes:

  • Crayola
  • American Greetings
  • AWeber
  • Intuit
  • LinkedIn
  • Harvard University
  • BBVA Compass
  • Aon
  • University of Pennsylvania

3. Distilled – Best for Technical SEO

Distilled was founded by Will Critchlow and Duncan Morris in 2005. 

From the beginning, Distilled has always been focused on technical SEO, focusing on the development aspects of content marketing. While other content marketing companies position themselves around big data, conversion optimization, or revenue generation, distilled builds their marketing around technical SEO.

They host a two-day event called SearchLove each year; their conference brings together some of the world’s leading thinkers on the latest in search, analytics, content creation, optimizing your website, paid promotions, and more.

They’ve been industry leaders in the online marketing and content creation space since 2005. Their content marketing services have branched out a bit to include digital PR and training courses, but their specialty is still the same. 

Technical SEO.

Distilled’s client list includes:

  • Red Bull
  • Zoopla
  • Rasmussen College
  • eBay
  • Simply Business
  • Cewe Photoworld
  • Grovo

4. Fractl – Best for In-Depth, Research-Heavy Content

Fractl is a research-heavy, data-driven content marketing company. As the screenshot above shows, they’re focused on rapid, organic growth that’s driven by content marketing, data journalism, digital PR, and search engine optimization. 

Research makes Fractl unique. 

They’re always researching industry-related topics, and they share their understanding of the art and science behind newsworthy content. They share their research in top publications, leading market resources, scientific journals, and authoritative conferences around the world.

Their research has been published in MarketingProfs, TNW, The Economist, Time, the Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, Pub Con, and many other publications and journals.

If you’re in a research-heavy industry and you’re looking for a high growth content marketing company, Fractl is a good choice. They’re one of the few content marketing companies that have a division dedicated to client growth.

Fractl’s client list includes:

  • Avvo
  • Indeed
  • ADT
  • Discover
  • DirecTV
  • Paychex
  • Porch
  • AutoNation
  • Fanatics

5. Column Five – Best for Data and Content Visualization

Budget: $10,000 +

Column Five describes itself as a creative content agency. They’re primarily focused on the visual side of content marketing — storytelling, design, data visualization, interactive motion graphics, even exhibition design.

They ranked #291 on the Inc. 500 2013 list of fastest-growing media companies in the United States. They are most known for their “child of the 90s” viral video on behalf of Internet Explorer.

As a content creation company, Column Five is focused primarily on content strategy, content creation, and content distribution. They rely on a simultaneous mix of organic and paid distribution channels to draw attention to client content.

Column Five client list includes:

  • Visa
  • Pacific Life
  • Cornell University
  • The World Bank
  • Northwestern
  • Charles Schwab 
  • LinkedIn
  • Salesforce 
  • Bill & Melinda Gates foundation
  • Zendesk

4. Single Grain – Best for Conversion-Driven Content Marketing

Budget: $10,000+

In 2014, entrepreneur and marketing guru Eric Siu bought a failing SEO agency — Single Grain — for $2. Using his marketing expertise and growth mentality, Eric nurtured and transformed Single Grain into the top digital marketing agency it is today.

Before purchasing Single Grain, Eric had helped spearhead an online education company’s growth when it only had a few months of cash left in the bank. 

“A month into it, the CEO pulls me aside,” Siu recalls, “and he’s like, ‘Eric, you know, 48 people, their families, they’re riding on your shoulders right now, and if you can’t hit numbers in the next month, we’re gonna have to let you go.’”

Eric Sui and the Single Grain team are turnaround specialists. They know what it takes to turn a failing business into a successful one; they focus their attention on optimizing for conversions and rapid growth. 

Single Grain client list includes:

  • Airbnb
  • Alexa
  • Amazon
  • Uber
  • Fujitsu
  • KitchenAid
  • Random House
  • TurboTax
  • Khan Academy
  • Crunchbase

7. The Content Bureau – Best for B2B Content Marketing

Budget: $25,000+

The content Bureau bills itself as a premier B2B content marketing company. This agency is woman-owned, 100 percent virtual, and their team is 90 percent female. The Content Bureau focuses its attention on the technology, venture capital, and financial sectors, working almost exclusively with global corporations who rely on them year-round.

Many of their clients are long-term, stable clients who prefer their premium approach, exclusive attention, and veteran workforce; 80 percent of their team have been with The Content Bureau for 10+ years. 

As an organization, they give their clients lots of handholding; they’re open and transparent with each of their clients, and they deliver amazing service with their extraordinary content.

The Content Bureau’s client list includes:

  • American Express
  • PayPal
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Adobe
  • ADP
  • Unilever
  • Magento
  • Microsoft
  • Cisco
  • Atlassian

8. Web Profits – Best for SaaS Content Marketing

Web Profits is the content marketing and advertising company that was co-founded by Sujan Patel and Alex Cleanthous. The company is focused exclusively on SaaS companies of all sizes, showing founders how to “10x demo bookings,” boost ARR and grow inbound leads dramatically.

Patel doesn’t think of Web Profits as an agency. He calls it a marketing “hit squad,” a team of SaaS specialists who understand your business inside and out. Their company focuses on only one industry; They’ve refined their process based on real-life, in-the-trenches experience.

What makes Web Profits so unique? Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Mailshake, his own SaaS business. He’s also the Managing Director of Ramp Ventures. He has an intimate understanding of what it takes to build a successful SaaS business from the ground up and is comfortable on both sides of the business. This makes the Web Profits team uniquely qualified to serve SaaS clients. 

Web Profits client list includes:

  • Shopify
  • Rackspace
  • Logitech
  • Automattic
  • Expedia
  • Yahoo
  • Mint

4 Characteristics that Make a Great Content Marketing Company

Your content marketing depends on several factors to be successful. A good content marketing company will provide you with all of these, and they’ll have no problem demonstrating that they have the expertise they need to make your campaign a success. 

Factor #1: A Stable Team of Content Creators

A healthy content marketing company will have a roster of regular and consistent writers on their team. Stable writers are skilled at writing, grammar, logical consistency, and storytelling. These writers can draw your readers in, creating content that moves people towards a specific goal or objective that you have in mind. 

These writers don’t need a lot of babysitting, and they’re able to figure things out, to a certain extent, on their own. They’re dependable, and they’re able to match your brand voice. 

Content mills produce poorly written filler content that’s mainly written for search engines. When you contact a content marketing company, you’ll want to ask them questions about how they run their business. 

  • How many writers do you have on staff?
  • Are they freelance or W-2? Do you use a mix of both? 
  • How many of your writers are full time? Part-time? 
  • How do you manage your team of writers? 
  • How many years of experience does the average writer on your team have? 

When you ask companies these questions listen to their answers carefully. Look for any inconsistencies or red flags. If you spot any red flags, bring them up immediately and ask for an answer. 

Factor #2: Access to Publishers and Influencers

According to Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers, you should be spending 20 percent of your time on content creation and 80 percent of your time on content promotion. The content marketing companies you work with are no different. If you’re investing a significant amount of time and money on creating an amazing piece of content, you should be spending 4x as much time on promotion. 

You want to make sure everyone in your target audience that needs to see the content you’ve created, sees it. 

When you’re working with a content marketing company, they should already have a list of influencers and publishers in their address book. They should also have connections and relationships with the right people, so they’re reasonably sure they can drive traffic to your content. 

Factor #3: Specialized Knowledge About your Industry

In an ideal world, your content marketing provider has a significant amount of experience in your space, or the ability to connect with experts who do. At a minimum, you’ll want to ensure that the content marketing company you choose can write credibly about the topics that are relevant to your business. 

The more specialized the content, the more important these criteria are for your business. 

Industries like healthcare, engineering, or finance require large amounts of specialized experience. It’s unrealistic to expect an inexperienced company to write credibly about a technical topic. On the other hand, there are some pros and cons that you’ll need to weigh for your business. 

  • Inexperienced Company Con: If you hire an inexperienced company, they’ll need more time to research and get up to speed. Content production will probably take more time than expected and will require more edits at first. 
  • Inexperienced Company Pro: they’ll bring new ideas that are perfect for beginners. Since they’re learning the space as they go, their writers will produce content that your audience also finds helpful. 
  • Experience Company Pro: If you hire an experienced company, they’ll produce content faster, and they’ll provide readers with a deeper level of insight that comes from years of experience. 

Specialization requires specialists. The more technical your business, the more important it is to have a specialist on hand. Mainstream content can do very well with generalists. 

Factor #4: Content Analysis and Measurement

You’ll need to see the numbers; your content marketing company should be able to provide you with a detailed breakdown. You should receive data outlining your performance; they should provide you with the KPIs, metrics, and sentiment surrounding your content.

You should be able to answer the following questions:

How Google Local Guides Improve Visibility

google guides local

As a business owner, you know reviews and fresh content are essential to your success.

Suppose you’re passionate about promoting your business. In that case, you likely spend a lot of time creating new blog articles, crafting social media posts, or developing video content to keep your audience engaged.

But there’s another, more passive promotion method that can help grow your business and boost your local search results: Google Local Guides.

Launched in 2015, Google Local Guides—also known as Google Guides—took over where Google Cities left off. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the closest comparison is the Yelp! Elite Squad.

Google Guides allows users to add reviews and other content in exchange for various perks ranging from storage space to clothing.

Since its launch, the Google Guides community has proved hugely popular. There are 120 million local guides, spanning 24,000 cities and towns.

There are several potential benefits of Google Guides for your business and its online visibility.

Let’s take a closer look at the Guides system.

What Are Google Guides?

The idea behind Google Guides is simple. It uses user-generated content (UGC) to enrich the information available on Google Maps.

Or as Google explains it, Guides are:

… a global community of explorers who write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit places, and check facts on Google Maps.

Guides’ additional content can increase your business’s visibility and make it easier for consumers to get the information they need.

Becoming a Local Guide is simple. Potential Guides sign up through their Google accounts, choose their locations, and be ready to go.

Once signed up, members of the Google Guides community receive points for each action they take.

All Guides start with zero points and work their way up through 10 levels, earning various perks along the way.

Creating Lists

Once Guides reach level four, they can start to add lists. These lists may consist of favorite places, destinations the guide plans to visit, and saved locations.

As you might expect, each list a Google Guide adds must meet specific requirements. To be eligible for publication, Google state a Guide’s list must:

  • have a title (i.e., a custom list, not be included in Want To Go or Favorites);
  • include a minimum of four places; and
  • be shared publicly.

Google Guides Perks

One aspect that makes Google Guides appealing to its members is the perks. Although these can vary from time to time, examples of the incentives include:

  • early access to new Google products
  • free music trials
  • discounted video services
  • storage space
  • partner perks
  • digital newspaper subscriptions
  • t-shirts and socks

Other bonuses include invitations to the Google Guides convention or Connect Live events, which are open to a limited number of community members.

There’s also an active online forum that helps fuel the community feeling and allows guides to share tips, favorite images, and other information.

How Do Google Guides Points and Levels Work?

Community members start at level one and can work their way up to level 10, which offers a maximum of 100,000 points.

google guides profile example

To try to ensure that Guides play by the rules, Google will close an account if a Guide violates the program’s policies.

Some violations that may get a guide removed from the program include:

  • participating as a business
  • duplicating reviews
  • spamming the site
  • posting offensive content
  • adding inaccurate information
  • including unnecessary keywords

How Does Your Business Benefit From Google Guides?

Since you can’t take part as a business owner, you might be wondering how Google Local Guides can help you.

Let’s start with one of the most crucial elements for businesses today: getting found online.

Increased Visibility

With most consumers heading online to search for local businesses, and mobile search on the rise, increased visibility is more critical than ever before.

This is where the content Google Guides compile can prove invaluable to your business and potentially help your local search rankings.

A Google my Business Insights Study revealed that high-quality images are vital to your listing.

The survey revealed that profiles with more images receive increased clicks, queries, and inquiries for directions.

Let’s look at the stats. Businesses with over one hundred images received:

  • 520% more calls than average
  • 2,717% more direction requests
  • 1,065% more website clicks

In addition, the research suggests several search benefits from image-rich Google My Business profiles.

Businesses with more than 100 images received:

  • 960% more search views
  • 3459% more map reviews
  • 1038% more direct searches

Although Google Guides and Google My Business are different products, they’re closely correlated, with both providing information for Google Maps.

This insight means the more detailed information about your business on Google Maps, the higher the likelihood consumers will find you online—and offline.

The Ability to Keep Your Profile Updated and Accurate

As we explained at the start, Google awards points for editing listings.

Making sure your details are updated is imperative because inaccurate information such as out-of-date phone numbers or an old address reduces the likelihood a customer will find your business offline.

Besides editing listings for errors, Google Guides can correct omissions. This added detail is essential in attracting new customers.

google guides local listing error review example

Statistics from Google show that 67% of your listing visitors would not feel the need to conduct further research if the profile includes essential information such as:

  • opening hours
  • locations
  • images
  • consumer reviews

The same study shows that 41% of users who come across an incomplete profile would continue with their research and leave the business’s profile, possibly depriving the business of an opportunity to gain a new customer.

Online Reviews

You know positive reviews inspire customer trust, but they can also help you get noticed online.

In an increasingly digital world, this online validation for your business is vital because:

  • 93% of consumers say online reviews affect their buying decisions
  • 91% of consumers value online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 90% of consumers will read reviews before visiting a brick-and-mortar business

Google is the first place consumers go to read reviews these days.

The search engine leads the way in online reviews, with over 60% of would-be buyers heading to Google when considering making a purchase.

Although there has been some debate about just how critical reviews are to SEO, Google confirms they play an indispensable role in local search:

High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.

Additionally, research from Moz confirms the importance of online reviews to SEO. Their 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors report found reviews account for 15% of local ranking factors.

Dealing With Negative Reviews

No matter how dedicated you are or how well you run your business, getting a negative review at some point is almost inevitable. It can hurt you personally, and you may be concerned that it can harm your professional reputation.

Let’s try to put this fear to rest.

Despite what you may think, your business needs negative reviews. Negative reviews allow consumers to make informed decisions. They also enable buyers to understand what could go wrong during a transaction, helping manage their expectations.

Instead of worrying about potential low reviews, your best approach is to positively and objectively respond to reviews.

Ask yourself:

  • Does the reviewer have a valid point?
  • Is it an issue you can address to make the experience better for the next customer?

All that said, there’s one type of negative comment that may concern you more than any other: the fake review.

Unfortunately, getting unwarranted negative feedback removed from Google Guides isn’t as easy as it could be. If the review violates Google’s terms, it will likely be removed.

But there’s no reporting option for fake reviews.

The best option may be to approach a Google Guides moderator. However, that doesn’t solve the problem of potential reputational damage over fake reviews.

Business owners can expect to, but this process is often time-consuming and frustrating for business owners who’ve experienced it.

How to Get Google Guides to Engage with You

You now know the benefits of Google Guides for your business. But how do you get them to find you and engage with you?

If you want to get more actively involved, that’s an option.

Here’s how to approach it.

Take Part in Meetups    

Businesses are welcome to partner with local guides for meetups, and even offer special discounts to them. Getting to know local guides is an excellent way for your business to engage with them and build relationships.

However, you’ll want to make sure that your company and the Guide adhere to Google policies. This means:

  • Local Guides mustn’t accept sponsorship in return for a positive review
  • Guides can’t accept payment for hosting the meetup
  • if your business sponsors the meetup or provides goods or services, Google Guides must clarify this in their meetup descriptions.

Also, Google Guides at level three and up qualify to host meetups, but they must get approval first.

Optimize Your Google My Business Page

Despite the apparent advantages of optimizing Google My Business, research has found over half of local businesses hadn’t claimed their listings.

Optimize Your Business Map’s Listing

Optimizing your map doesn’t just make it easier for locals to find you; it also makes it easier for Google Guides to discover your business.

To make your site stand out, optimize your Google map listing by:

  • adding imagery
  • responding to reviews
  • completing your profile
  • keeping your profile updated

Stress the Importance of Reviews to Your Business

There isn’t anything wrong with explaining to your customers how important reviews are to your business. However, be careful about the way you approach it.

If you need some basic guidelines on getting more reviews, Google has these suggestions:

  • Begin a conversation with your shoppers about reviews.
  • Make leaving feedback easy.
  • Share positive reviews.
  • Respond to online feedback.


Google Guides can help you attract new interest in your business. But you may be unaware of the potential advantages of being profiled by local guides.

Businesses with an increased amount of user-generated content (UGC) stand to benefit from increased consumer confidence in their brand, enhanced trust from Google and potentially improved local search rankings.

As a result, your business may experience an increased number of queries, enhanced visibility for your goods and services, and more visits to your offline store.

Do you have experience with Google Guides? Feel free to comment below.

The post How Google Local Guides Improve Visibility appeared first on Neil Patel.


Search Intent and SEO: A Quick Guide

Posted by DawnMacri

Understanding search intent can be the secret ingredient that brings your content strategy from okay to outstanding. As an SEO Strategist at a digital marketing agency (Brainlabs), we often find clients on the brink of ranking success. They’re sitting on stellar content that simply isn’t ranking for their target keywords. Why? Oftentimes, the keywords and the intent simply don’t match.

Here we’ll discuss the different types of search intent, how to determine the best intent for given keywords, and how to optimize for search intent. First–let’s iron out the basics.

What is search intent?

Search intent (also known as user intent) is the primary goal a user has when searching a query in a search engine. Many times, users are searching for a specific type of answer or resource as they search.

Take pizza for example. Searching for a pizza recipe has a different intent than searching for a takeout pizza, which is also different from searching for the history of pizza. Though they all revolve around the same overall topic (pizza), these users all have different intents.

Why is search intent important for SEO?

Google cares about search intent

The short answer is: Satisfying search intent is a primary goal for Google, which in turn makes it a primary goal for SEOs. When a user searches for a specific term and finds irrelevant information, that sends a signal back to Google that the intent is likely mismatched.

For example, if a user searches “How to build a website,” and they’re shown a slew of product pages for CMS platforms and hosting sites, they’ll try another search without clicking on anything. This is a signal to Google that the intent of those results do not reflect the intent of the searcher.

Broaden your reach across funnel stages

When it comes to running a business and building a successful content marketing strategy, I can’t stress enough the importance of remembering search intent, and letting that be the driving force behind the pieces of content you create and how you create them.

And just why is this so important? The more specific your content is to various search intents, the more users you can reach, and at different stages of the funnel. From those who are still to discover your brand to those looking to convert, you can increase your chances of reaching them all by focusing your efforts on matching search intent.

You can improve rankings

Since Google’s primary ranking factors are relevance, authority, and user satisfaction, it’s easy to connect the dots and see how improving your keyword targeting to mirror search intent can improve your overall rankings.

Relevance: This has to do with your user’s behavior. If they find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’re less likely to return to Google within seconds and explore a different result (pogo-sticking). You’ll notice a difference in such KPIs as click-through rate and bounce rate when your content is relevant to search intent.

Authority: While much of a site’s authority is connected to backlinks, it’s also important to develop a strong internal linking strategy that signals to Google “I have a lot of content covering all angles and intents surrounding this topic” to rank well. Additionally, you can increase brand authority and visibility by creating valuable content around topics your brand is well versed in, that satisfies various intents.

User satisfaction: Does the content you create provide value and is it relevant to your audience? End of story.

Types of search intent

While there are endless search terms, there are just four primary search intents:

  1. Informational
  2. Preferential/Commercial Investigation
  3. Transactional
  4. Navigational

Now you may be thinking, that’s all well and good, but what do they mean for my content? Luckily, I’ve broken each one down with example terms that suggest intent. Keep in mind, however, that searches are not binary –– many will fall under more than one category.


As you may have guessed, searches with informational intent come from users looking for… information! This could be in the form of a how-to guide, a recipe, or a definition. It’s one of the most common search intents, as users can look for answers to an infinite number of questions. That said, not all informational terms are questions. Users searching for simply “Bill Gates” are most likely looking for information about Bill Gates.


  • How to boil an egg
  • What is a crater
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Directions to JFK Airport

Preferential/Commercial Investigation

Before they’re ready to make a purchase, users start their commercial investigation. This is when they use search to investigate products, brands, or services further. They’re past the informational stage of their research and have narrowed their focus to a few different options. Users here are often comparing products and brands to find the best solution for them.

Note: These searches often include non-branded localized terms such as “best body shop near me” or “top sushi restaurant NYC.”


  • Semrush vs Moz
  • Best website hosting service
  • Squarespace reviews
  • WordPress or wix for blog


Transactional searchers are looking to make a purchase. This could be a product, service, or subscription. Either way, they have a good idea of what they’re looking for. Since the user is already in buying mode, these terms are usually branded. Users are no longer researching the product, they’re looking for a place to purchase it.


  • Buy Yeti tumbler
  • Seamless coupon
  • Shop Louis Vuitton bags
  • Van’s high tops sale


These searchers are looking to navigate to a specific website, and it’s often easier to run a quick search in Google than to type out the URL. The user could also be unsure of the exact URL or looking for a specific page, e.g. a login page. As such, these searches tend to be brand or website names and can include additional specifications to help users find an exact page.


  • Spotify login
  • Yelp
  • MOZ beginner SEO
  • distilledU

How to determine search intent

Consider keyword modifiers

As we briefly noted above, keyword modifiers can be helpful indicators for search intent. But it’s not enough just to know the terms, you may also be wondering, when it comes to keyword research, how do you find these terms?

Thankfully, there are a range of trusted keyword research tools out there to use. Their filter features will be most useful here, as you can filter terms that include certain modifiers or phrases.

Additionally, you can filter keywords by SERP feature. Taking informational intent for example, you can filter for keywords that rank for knowledge panels, related questions, and featured snippets.

Read the SERPs

Another way to determine search intent is to research the SERPs. Type in the keyword you’re targeting into the search bar and see what Google comes up with. You’ll likely be able to tell by the types of results what Google deems the most relevant search intent for each term.

Let’s take a closer look at search results for each intent type.

SERP results for informational intent

As mentioned above, informational keywords tend to own SERP results that provide condensed information. These include knowledge grabs, featured snippets, and related questions. The top results are most likely organic results, and consist of Wikipedia, dictionary, or informative blog posts.

SERP results for preferential/commercial research intent

Preferential intent is similar in that results may include a featured snippet, but they’ll also include paid results at the top of the SERP. The results will also likely provide information about the brands searched, rather than topical information.

In the example below, the organic results compare product features between competing site hosts, rather than explaining what site hosts are and how they function.

SERP results for transactional intent

Transactional SERPs are some of the most straightforward to spot. They usually lead with paid results and/or shopping results, shopping carousels, and reviews. The organic results are largely product pages from online and brick and mortar retailers, and depending on the search, can include maps to their locations.

SERP results for navigational intent

Since users with navigational intent already know which website they’re looking for, these results usually feature the most relevant page at the top: e.g. if the user searches “Spotify”, Spotify’s homepage will be the first result, whereas the login page will take first position for “Spotify login.”

Additional features such as site links, knowledge cards, and top stories may also be present, depending on the specific search.

Look at the full picture

Keep in mind that terms often have more than one search intent, so looking only at keywords or the SERP is rarely enough to truly define it. That said, taking this holistic approach will bring you closer to the most prominent intent.

It’s also important to note that SERPs are volatile, so while a keyword may rank for one intent this month, that could change next month.

How to optimize for search intent

Match metadata and content type to the intent

You’ve done your research and know which keywords you’re targeting with which pages. Now it’s time to optimize. A solid place to start is with your pages’ metadata –– update your title tag, H1, and H2s to reflect your specific keyword targeting. To increase click-through rate, try to leverage your title tag with some snappy copy (without creating clickbait).

Examine the competition

As with most competitions, it’s a good idea to suss out the current winners prior to the event. So, before jumping in to creating new pages or reformatting existing content, take a look at the top-ranking pages and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How are they formatted?
  • What’s their tone?
  • Which points do they cover?
  • What are they missing?

You can now use your answers to create the best, most relevant piece of content on the topic.

Format content for relevant SERP features

Just as you used the SERP features as clues to search intent, they can also be used to inform your pages’ formatting and content. If the featured snippet contains a numbered list, for example, it’s safe to say that Google appreciates and rewards that format for that term.

In a similar vein, if the SERP returns related questions, be sure to answer those questions clearly and concisely in your content.

Key takeaways:

When creating SEO content around search intent, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Understand the search intent before optimizing content
  • When discovering new terms, use specific modifiers in your keyword research
  • Use the SERPs to determine optimal formatting and content options
  • Provide valuable, quality content every time

Creating SEO optimized content for specific search intents is simple, but not easy. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to giving users the content they need in a format that they want.

For a deeper dive on fulfilling search intent, be sure to check out this informative Whiteboard Friday from Moz’s Britney Muller.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


The 6 Best Local SEO Companies of 2020

Local search has exploded. Research from Think with Google, says local searches with the qualifier “near me” have grown by 150 percent faster than other local search queries. There’s been a 500 percent increase in “near me” mobile searches and a 900 percent increase in “near me today/tonight” searches.

When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. 

Google introduced us to something they call “micro moments.” They defined micro moments as “an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need — to know, go, do, or buy.” Businesses that rely on local SEO companies dominate these micro moments in the long run. 

Which company is best for your business? We’ll take a look at a few of the best Local SEO companies in the industry today. 

6 of the Best Local SEO companies

1. NP Digital – Best for Conversion-Driven Local SEO

A lot of SEO companies obsess over vanity metrics like rankings, impressions, or traffic. It isn’t easy to find an SEO company that focuses obsessively on building top-line revenue. When I started my very first business, a job board called Advice Monkey, I was clueless. I didn’t know how to build traffic, generate leads, or boost revenue for my business. 

I saved up enough money from picking up trash and cleaning restrooms at a theme park. I gave my money to a marketing firm, and they ripped me off. I had nothing to show for my money. 

This is the experience most people have with their local SEO firms. 

I know what it’s like to be ripped off; to lose money. You may need to keep your business going. That’s why NP Digital, my agency, is focused on conversions and revenue. We give our clients a carefully planned local search campaign that provides A to Z coverage. We work with small, local mom and pops businesses all the way up to large, multinational brands with locations all over the world. 

But we focus on conversions and revenue. Client expectations coming in are high, but our case studies show we’re able to do some pretty big things for our clients. In one case study, we were able to grow our client’s organic traffic by 2.3x

We don’t separate local SEO into separate silos. We keep all of it — technical SEO, citations, reviews, on-page and off-page optimization, content marketing — in the same marketing bucket. 

NP Digital’s client list includes:

  • Facebook
  • Viacom
  • Google
  • GM
  • eBay
  • NBC
  • Thomson Reuters foundation
  • TechCrunch
  • Cheezburger
  • American Greetings

2. Searchbloom – Best for Local and Technical SEO

Searchbloom focuses on a methodology they call the A.R.T (Authority, Relevancy, Technology) of Local SEO. One of the things that makes Searchbloom so effective at technical SEO is the fact that they’re focused on optimizing their client’s technology stack. 

Here’s how they explain it on their website

“Local SEO is not all about keywords and search engines. It’s also about making sure the foundation of your website is sound. For example, the structure of your site needs to be optimized to deliver a fantastic user experience with fast load times, mobile optimization, and secure user data. If you were a search engine, would you reward a webpage with top rankings if it was not responsive to mobile devices, had broken links, or took a long time to load? I think we would all agree that the answer is no. Because of this, optimizing your websites technology or ‘tech stack’ is crucial for Local SEO success.”

They have a point. The easier it is for customers to use your website, the more likely they are to use it. They’re technical specialists, but they’re still focused on making sure their clients see a return. It’s part of their promise: 

“We have made a commitment to ourselves and our partners that we will never bring on a new partner client unless we KNOW we can generate an ROI.”

The other parts of their service seem to back their commitment up as well. Each client receives a dedicated analyst, custom strategies, and there are no long-term contracts. They guarantee a 24 response time, but the average time is less than two hours. They share several case studies on their site, including one where they were able to produce a 71 percent increase in organic traffic for their client. They have an aggregate review rating of 4.9 stars.

Searchbloom’s client list includes:

  • Tear-A-Part
  • Jitterbug
  • Bodyguardz
  • Moxie Pest Control
  • Wine of the Month Club
  • Schwartzapfel Lawyers 

3. BrightLocal – Best for Assessing Local Search Performance

BrightLocal makes all-in-one local marketing software for agencies and local businesses. If you’re a marketer, their local platform provides you with the tools you need to manage the specific tasks of local SEO. If you’re a sophisticated client or you already have a plan that you’re going to follow, BrightLocal is ideal because it allows you to handle the implementation yourself. 

What if you don’t have the know-how you need to handle it yourself? 

They also offer services — manual submission, citation building, and management services for your local SEO campaigns.  If you’re looking for a company that can help you in a supporting role, BrightLocal is a great option. What sets BrightLocal apart is the fact that they offer software and services to both brands and agencies.

They’re local search specialists, and they have deep in-depth knowledge in this area. They work with small, local businesses and large national clients like Valvoline. They have an aggregate review rating of 3.8 – 4.9 stars.

BrightLocal’s client list includes:

  • Valvoline
  • IKEA
  • Kumon
  • Havas
  • RotoRooter
  • Halfords

4. Digital Marketing Agency – Best for Worldwide Local Search

Reviews: 3.7 – 5 stars (aggregate) 

DMA is an award winning international marketing agency offering full-service marketing and advertising support for growing local businesses. If you have a regional or national multi-location business and you’d like to expand, you’ll need a provider that can help you enter new markets successfully. 

DMA has 10 offices on 4 continents. 

They work with small, local brands, but they’re specialists at handling large, multi-national accounts for a variety of large, blue-chip clients. They can manage local search campaigns from beginning to end, across a range of markets, including markets with different languages, cultures, and expectations. 

They have a 3.7 – 5-star aggregate review rating and a strong reputation in the industry. While other firms are focused strictly on the SEO side of things, DMA can handle any creative, development, or marketing requirements as they come up. If you’re looking for a skilled generalist, DMA is a great place to start. 

DMA’s client list includes:

  • Kohler
  • Blockchain
  • TripAdvisor
  • Promogo
  • Makeable

5. HigherVisibility – Best for Franchise / Multi-Location 

HigherVisibility is an agency that specializes predominantly in organic search engine optimization and local SEO. They’re really good at local SEO for small businesses, franchises, and multi-location companies. More than 50 percent of their clients are small, local business owners who need more traffic, leads, and sales. They share the results they’ve achieved for other clients in their online case studies

HigherVisibility was previously recognized as Agency of the Year by Search Engine Land in 2018 and a Top 10 SEO Agency by UpCity. They have an aggregate review rating of 4.8 stars. 

HigherVisibility’s client list includes:

  • Allied Van Lines
  • East Coast Wings Franchise
  • UFood Grill
  • Sonx Therapy
  • Memphis Medical Society
  • Magnolia Homes
  • Barefoot Luxury Villas

6. Instaboost Media – Best for Low Budget

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The Best Blogging Platforms (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Whether you want to become a blogger for a big-time news publication, share your independent thoughts online, make millions as a blogger, or something in between, it all starts with a blogging platform. 

And choosing the right one sets precedence for everything else you do. 

But with so many options to choose from, picking the best blogging platform can feel overwhelming. 

So to help you out, I created a list of considerations to think about as you go through the process and reviewed the top five blogging platforms on the market today. 

By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to starting your own blog. 

The top 6 options for blogging platforms:

  1. Wix – Best drag-and-drop blogging platform
  2. – Best open-source blogging platform
  3. Squarespace – Best for visual-based businesses
  4. Medium – Best traditional blogging platform
  5. Blogger – Best for personal blogs

How to choose the best blogging platform for you 

Choosing a blogging platform is an important decision. And the one you choose depends on what you hope to do with your new blog and how much control you want to have. 

So, let’s walk through what to consider as you make your final decision. 

Do you want to make money?

This is probably the most crucial question to ask yourself. 

If you want to start a personal blog to share your thoughts and experiences, you’re completely fine going with a free blogging platform, like Medium or Blogger. 

However, if you want to make money blogging, you have to be careful. Most free platforms don’t let you monetize your blog. So, you need to choose a premium blogging platform that gives you more control, like Wix,, or Squarespace. 

Do you already have a website?

If you want to add a blog to a website you already have, I highly recommend looking into your website platform’s blogging capabilities. 

This is the easiest way to add a blog to a website that already exists. 

Alternatively, you can look into migrating your website to Wix,, or Squarespace. However, I recommend staying with the platform you’re already using if you can. 

Customization capabilities

Paid blogging platforms give you more control and design flexibility, allowing you to build a complete website and brand around your blog. And you can customize the look and feel of nearly every aspect of your website. 

If you’re serious about blogging as a business, you need that level of control. 

For complete flexibility and customization options, go with And if you want something easier than WordPress, yet still flexible, Wix and Squarespace are great drag-and-drop options. 

On the other hand, free blogging platforms don’t give you the ability to customize to that extent. You may be able to change the colors and pick between a few different layouts. 

But, you can’t do much aside from that. 

With that said, if you’re interested in personal or hobby blogging, you don’t need anything fancy. Free blogging platforms offer everything you need to quickly write content and share it online in just a few clicks. 

The different types of blogging platforms

There are several different types of blogging platforms. 

And the right one for you depends on what you want to do with your blog. 

So, before we dive into my top recommendations, let’s walk through the different types and what they’re used for. 


Free blogging platforms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

They’re perfect for anyone interested in personal or hobby blogging. And it’s the easiest way to write and publish content online quickly. 

However, free blogging platforms usually don’t let you make money with your content. You can’t make money with ads, use affiliate marketing, or sell your own products. 

Furthermore, they’re very limited in design flexibility and customization capabilities. 

You may even be stuck with random ads placed on your blog. And migrating your content from a free platform to another isn’t an easy process. So, they’re not suitable for business bloggers or anyone interested in making money blogging at any point in the future. 

Website builders

Website builders are all-inclusive, drag-and-drop design tools that let you quickly build an entire website without touching any code. They’re easy to set up, simple to use, and include a full suite of blogging tools. 

However, they’re not free. But web hosting is included with your subscription, and some even offer a free custom domain name for the first year. 

Furthermore, you get a significant level of flexibility and customization. But some areas may be limited depending on the blogging platform you choose. 

This is a great place to start if you want to make money, but you’ve never built a website before. Just keep in mind that you sacrifice some flexibility in exchange for ease of use. 


Open-source blogging platforms are free to download and install. They’re completely customizable from the inside out, making them perfect for serious bloggers and business owners interested in building a full-fledged custom website. 

However, there’s a steeper learning curve.

But once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize how flexible and customizable this type of blogging platform really is. You can create ecommerce stores, business websites, portfolios, service-based websites, interactive blogs, and more. 

With that said, you have to buy web hosting before you can install an open-source software. 

But most web hosts make this type of software easy to install with one-click installation. 

#1 – Wix Review — The best drag-and-drop blogging platform

If you’re looking for the easiest premium blogging platform, you should go with Wix

It’s an all-in-one website builder with more than 100 million users worldwide, making it one of the most popular options on the market. 

Furthermore, it’s excellent for beginners interested in creating a full-fledged website with a blog included. And Wix’s intuitive drag-and-drop builder makes creating engaging blog content a breeze. 

Plus, it includes everything you need to make money with your new blog. 

With Wix, you get premium blogging features, including:

  • 500 professional design templates
  • Industry-leading SEO tools
  • Rich-text editor
  • Embed HTML codes
  • Categories and hashtags
  • Advanced search capabilities
  • Writer and editor user roles
  • Easy image editing
  • Social media tools
  • Visitor analytics

Wix is arguably the easiest and fastest way to get your professional website and blog running.

You can also take advantage of their ADI (advanced design intelligence) tool, which creates everything you need to get started in a matter of minutes. 

Simply answer a few questions, customize the design, add your website copy, update your images, and you’re ready to start blogging.  

Wix offers a free plan, which is excellent for building your site and getting everything ready to go. However, I highly recommend upgrading to a paid plan so you can remove Wix ads and connect a custom domain name. 

Paid plans start at $13/mo and increase depending on the features you need. 

#2 – Review — The best open-source blogging platform is an open-source blogging platform with complete design flexibility. 

It also powers 38% of the entire internet, including the blog you’re reading right now, making it the most popular blogging platform on the market. 

And the best part? It’s free to download and install. 

However, you do need web hosting to be able to use it. This usually costs around $3 – $10 per month, so it’s the most affordable option on this list. 

With that said, it’s not as easy as Wix. There are a few more steps to get started, but the extra work is well worth it if you’re looking for complete design control and flexibility. 

With, you also get:

  • 55,000+ plugins to extend the functionality of your site
  • Thousands of free and premium themes
  • The Gutenburg block editor
  • Advanced user roles and permissions
  • Powerful media management
  • A massive community of experts
  • Infinite design control

The best part is that you have 100% control over your website and blog. Plus, you aren’t tied down by rules and regulations. You can decide what to display, what you don’t reveal, and how you make money. 

There are countless ways to get started with But I highly recommend starting with Bluehost

It’s the easiest way to get everything you need. 

They also include a free domain name for the first year. So, all you have to do is pick a hosting plan, snag your free domain, and use their one-click WordPress installation feature. 

#3 – Squarespace Review — The best blogging platform for visual-based businesses

Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder, like Wix. However, it’s famous for aesthetically pleasing templates, making it perfect for visual-based businesses like photographers, designers, and artists. 

It’s also straightforward to use. Plus, it includes web hosting services and a free domain for the first year (if you choose an annual premium plan). 

It’s perfect for bloggers who want an easy, aesthetic way to share images, videos, and portfolio pieces, along with long-form and short-form blog posts. 

And with Squarespace, you create blog posts the same way you create pages. 

So, once you learn how the drag-and-drop editor works, you know how to use the entire platform. You also get access to powerful blogging features, including:

  • Free blogging templates to help you get started
  • Five unique post layouts for your home and archive pages
  • Categories, tags, and featured posts
  • Built-in post scheduler
  • Contributor permissions
  • In-depth analytics
  • SEO and social media tools
  • Email marketing (additional fees)
  • Expert customer service
  • Mobile app

Squarespace isn’t as customizable as Wix or, but it’s perfect for creative bloggers and visual-based businesses looking for something captivating and easy to use. 

Paid plans start at $12 per month and increase depending on the features you need. 

#4 – Medium Review — The best traditional blogging platform

Medium is a platform that helps readers and writers find new ideas, knowledge, and perspectives. It’s unique because there are no ads present on the platform. 

To date, they have over 120 million readers, making this an excellent way to get your content in front of more people. It’s also great if you want to share personal stories and perspectives to get your thoughts out to the world. 

However, it’s not a great platform for making money as a blogger. Medium does have a partner program that rewards writers for the amount of time paying members spend reading their content. 

But you’ll have a hard time making a decent amount of money on Medium alone. 

And you can’t include your own call-to-actions in partner posts. So, you have to choose between making money and growing your email list. 

It’s not a flawed model. However, I highly recommend treating Medium as an extension of your Wix, Squarespace, or blog. 

To get started, you can create a profile or a publication. Publications look more aesthetically pleasing, and you get more organization and display features. With publications, you can also send newsletters to your followers. 

However, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. 

Note: if you use Medium as an extension of your blog, make sure you use their import feature to add existing blog posts. This way, you can add content from your blog to Medium without creating duplicate content for SEO purposes. 

#5 – Blogger Review – The best for personal blogs

Blogger is one of the original blogging platforms. It’s been around since 1999.

It’s completely free to use with no paid plans, upsells, or anything like that. And it’s incredibly easy to use. This makes it perfect for personal or hobby bloggers looking to share their thoughts and ideas with the world. 

They have several free templates to choose from that govern how your blog looks. However, they’re not very customizable. 

You can change the colors and the layout of a few things, but that’s about it. 

The platform focuses solely on blogging, so that’s where the majority of their features lie. With Blogger, you get free access to essential features, including:

  • A free SSL certificate and free domain mapping
  • Google integrations
  • Image storage with Google Photos
  • Integrated ad campaigns
  • Simple text editor

And while those features are great, the platform is seriously lacking in other departments, including customization, custom post types, and overall design. 

Essentially, it’s an old-school blogging platform. It works well for simple blogging, but you can’t create a full-fledged website, so I don’t recommend it if you want to build a brand and make money blogging. 

However, since Google’s acquisition in 2003, you can display Google Ads on your blog to make a little extra money on the side. 

But, it’s not a sustainable or long-term way to make a full-time income with your blog. 


The best blogging platform for you depends on where you want to take your blog. For personal and hobby bloggers, a free platform like Blogger or Medium is the perfect place to start. 

They’re easy to set up, incredibly simple, and the fastest way to start publishing online. Plus, you don’t have to pay anything to share your thoughts and ideas. 

However, if you want to make money and turn your blog into a business, free platforms won’t cut it. The easiest premium blogging platforms are Wix and Squarespace, making them perfect for beginners. 

However, if you want the ultimate level of control, go with hosted by Bluehost

The post The Best Blogging Platforms (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.


How to Choose The Right Ecommerce Agency

As an industry, ecommerce is expected to grow at a minimum of 6.3 percent per year. According to Statista, user penetration will be 82.2 percent by 2024, up from 77.3 percent in 2020. The retail apocalypse and a worldwide pandemic have boosted ecommerce growth. 

This is good news for ecommerce companies; it’s great news for ecommerce companies with an agency that’s ready to take advantage of this growth. 

Here’s what you need to choose the right ecommerce agency. 

Know Your Goals and Desired Outcomes

With ecommerce, the goals and desired outcomes are pretty straightforward. You need to sell products to make money. Your agency’s approach should be geared toward direct response marketing. You send customers a relevant message that’s designed to get them to do something — learn, subscribe, follow, or buy.

Here are a few simple goals you can use as a starting point with your agency. 

  • Increase qualified website traffic
  • Increase time on site
  • Add more subscribers to your email list
  • Add followers to your social media accounts 
  • Increase sales
  • Increase upsells
  • Increase average order values
  • Decrease expenses and marketing costs
  • Improve customer retention

These goals should be oriented around specific outcomes, regardless of the goals you choose. Examples of outcomes include: 

  • Increasing return on ad spend by 13 percent
  • Boosting website traffic by 26 percent
  • Increasing year-over-year sales by 30 percent
  • 2x product upsells
  • Add 125K more subscribers in 18 months

Each of these examples should be focused on producing a specific result or outcome for your business. If you provide your agency with specific goals, they should be able to provide you with a plan to achieve those goals. 

4 Characteristics That Make a Great Ecommerce Agency 

While choosing the right ecommerce agency isn’t rocket science, it does require the right information and a bit of discipline. If you know what you’re looking for, it’s easier to screen for it. 

1. Experience and knowledge of your business

Your industry has its own ethnographics —  its own culture, unique jargon, and problems. Your agency should have the industry experience you need to work with your customers, your business, and the industry successfully. 

If your product lines are broad or you have a lot of products that you offer, you may be able to work with agencies with a broad or generalized skill set. If you’re a specialist or your industry is highly technical, it’s really important that you choose an agency with subject-matter experts who understand your business well.

If your agency has this know-how, they’ll have what they need to promote your business effectively. They’ll know which images work best; their writers will understand the tone and voice they should use in your content. They’ll have a pretty good idea of the promotions your customers will respond to.

2. They put customers first

Your agency should treat your customers as the priority. They obviously mean that they work to get to know your customers as well as you do. This isn’t just an understanding of the things your customers want and need. It’s an understanding of the way you work with your customers. 

This is important because your agency needs to be able to say no if they see something that could affect customers negatively.

This is essential because it means you can trust your agency to always do what’s best for your customers and your business. This also means your agency will be focused on managing your budget well, so they’re able to generate results for you. 

For example, if your agency knows your breakeven cost, and they understand your margins, they’ll avoid creating ads with offers that create a financial loss. If your margins are tight, they should avoid customer discounts, choosing to focus on backend incentives (e.g., low price guarantees, bonuses, and warranties) to attract more customers. 

3. They prioritize revenue and returns

Everything your agency does should lead to revenue. Their work should generate leads, sales, and revenue consistently for your business. Your agency should help you find ways to cut costs, specifically in high-cost areas like shipping or returns. 

They should be able to show you a process they can follow to increase your return on marketing investment and lower advertising costs. This sounds like it’s pretty obvious advice, but you’d be surprised at the number of agencies that ignore this. Some agencies prefer to be vague about things like revenue and returns so it’s easy to collect their monthly fee. 

4. Focus on the right metrics and KPIs

There are lots of ecommerce metrics you can track, your agency should be able to identify the core metrics you need to grow your ecommerce business. If you decide that you need more data, you can always add more metrics on an as-needed basis. 

Core metrics your agency needs to focus on: 

  • Website traffic rates: You’ll want to identify the traffic sources that make you money, sources that cost you money, and the sources that lead to increased conversion rates over time. If the traffic you receive generates interest from qualified customers, your source is good. If your agency continues to use CRO procedures, you should be able to increase your traffic at a lower cost over time.  
  • Email opt-ins: Email marketing is still one of the most valuable marketing channels you can use, producing an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent.  Building an email list means you’re converting paid or earned media to owned media. Your agency should be focused on building email as a marketing channel, using it to stabilize your cash flow and revenue. 
  • Sales conversion rates: The average ecommerce conversion rate is 2 to 4.9 percent in the United States. Your agency, with consistent testing, should be able to increase your conversion rates year-over-year. Your agency should also be tracking both micro and macro conversion rates. 
  • Average order values: This tracks the dollar amount spent by your customers each time an order is placed on your website. Your agency should be able to provide you with concrete steps you can take to increase your average order values (and customer lifetime values) over time. They should help you create upsell, down-sell, and cross-sell opportunities. You should always have a list of tactics you can use to increase your average order values. 
  • Return rates: Returns cost ecommerce companies more than $550 billion. While brick and mortar return rates average around 8 to 10 percent, ecommerce return rates are more than double at 20 percent or more. Your agency should be able to help you lower your return rates. This is tough to do because 41 percent of customers buy products with the intention of returning some or all of their items. 
  • Ecommerce churn rate: Churn measures customer attrition; this is a problem for ecommerce. How do you measure churn rates if your customer never cancels? Your agency should be able to use metrics like repeat purchase rate or time between orders to calculate your churn rate and provide you with a plan to reduce churn in the future. 

The ecommerce agency you choose should be able to provide you with clear answers about each of these. It should be clear that they have these characteristics and the ability to produce the results you need. 

How to Work With an Ecommerce Agency

Your ecommerce agency should provide you with the information you need to evaluate their capabilities. You’ll want to ask for this information upfront.  

  1. A proven track record: Your agency should be able to provide you with samples, references, case studies, and reviews to document their performance. If you found your agency through SEO, it’s a good indication that they understand SEO, and they’re capable of producing results for your business. 
  2. Clear expertise: Your agency should be able to provide you with samples, case studies, and a proven track record,  showing that they have the knowledge and experience needed to sell your products well.
  3. Clear milestones showing progress: You should be given a clear timeline, showing you how to approach your campaign, how long it will take to get everything done, and when they expect that you’ll start seeing results.
  4. A list of their credentials: Ask your agency for a list of certifications or credentials that communicate expertise, if they have any. This will verify their experience and knowledge in several areas. For example, if they’re a Premier Google Partner, you know that they have a specific amount of clients, revenue, and some financial stability. 
  5. Agency people and procedures: Your agency needs to show you how they plan on approaching your campaign or project. Ask them to outline their process, show how they’ll manage your budgets, and how they’ll manage their people. You should know who’s assigned to your account and their backgrounds. 
  6. Communication guidelines: When and how will their team communicate with you. Who will be your point-of-contact? Are you free to call your point of contact whenever you need help, or is there a specific time they’re available? Is support included (it should be). 

Your agency should provide you with detailed specifics for each of these points. If you have more questions or concerns, you’ll want to bring those up with your agency. 

The 6 Top Ecommerce Agencies

Here’s a list of the best ecommerce agencies in the industry today.  

1. NP Digital – Best for Maximizing ROI

NP Digital is my e-commerce marketing company. One thing that sets my agency apart from other agencies is our direct response focus. Every improvement we make needs to lead to revenue in some way. If we’re optimizing images, rewriting copy, or redesigning graphics, it needs to make money for clients or produce results in a meaningful way.

2. Upgrow – Best for Strategic Planning

Upgrow is an e-commerce marketing agency that provides complete A-to-Z coverage and optimization. They can design, create, optimize, and promote your e-commerce business. As an agency, they’re expert generalists. They’re comfortable working with e-commerce clients regardless of their industry, whether they’re selling $1 pencils or five-figure consulting. 

3. Inflow – Best for Ecommerce Specialist

Most agencies provide A-to-Z support over several areas — design, optimization, and promotion; Inflow goes in the opposite direction focusing exclusively on the marketing and advertising side. They offer SEO, PPC, paid social, and CRO services.

Here’s one thing that sets Inflow apart is the fact that they don’t have account managers; clients work directly with industry veterans. If there are any questions or concerns about your campaign, you’re able to discuss the details directly with those working on your account. 

4. Single Grain – Best for a Custom Marketing Plan

Single Grain focuses on rapid growth; every client receives a unique digital marketing campaign. Single Grain creates custom strategies on a case-by-case basis. This is important because many ecommerce marketing companies apply cookie-cutter techniques to ecommerce marketing. 

5. 1Digital – Best for Bigcommerce Customization

1Digital works with several ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, Magento, Volusion, and Woo Commerce;  They’re known for their work with BigCommerce and Shopify. Like other agencies, 1Digital is a full-service agency that provides A to Z services. 

6. Avex – Best for Shopify Plus 

Avex is a boutique creative e-commerce agency that’s focused on brands in the beauty, luxury, lifestyle, and fashion industries. They focus primarily on optimizing for Shopify’s platform. They prioritize the creative and design side of marketing, which makes sense based on the industries they serve. 


The ecommerce industry will continue to grow as more and more people shift their offline dollars online. This is a huge opportunity for ecommerce retailers. It’s also going to be a challenge for the businesses that are unprepared for the competition that follows. 

Choose the right agency, and you’ll have the support you need to jump ahead of your competitors. Use this guide to find the pros and cons you need to vet the right ecommerce agency.

The post How to Choose The Right Ecommerce Agency appeared first on Neil Patel.


Best Business Insurance

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Every business needs insurance. Depending on your business type and industry, some of you will need more protection than others. 

Without insurance, you could be liable for potentially hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

What happens if one of your vehicles is involved in an accident? How will you pay for the damages of a fire or flood in your office? What if an employee or customer slips and falls on your property? 

You need to have insurance, or you’ll be paying these costs out of pocket.

But finding the best business insurance package for your organization can be tricky. On the one hand, you want to make sure that you’re covered, but on the other, you don’t want to overpay on premiums. 

The best way to start your search is by choosing a reputable business insurance provider—I’ve narrowed down the top business insurance companies in this guide. 

The Top 6 Options For Business Insurance

  1. Chubb
  2. CNA
  3. Hiscox
  4. Insureon
  5. Progressive
  6. The Hartford

How to Choose the Best Business Insurance For You

There is no “one-size-fits-all” plan for business insurance. Every organization is unique, so you’ll need custom protection based on your needs. Certain insurance providers are definitely better for specific types of insurance, as well as other factors. 

As you’re browsing and getting quotes from different providers, make sure you keep the following considerations in mind:


Some insurance providers have more experience covering businesses within certain industries. 

For example, a restaurant would have very different insurance needs from a construction company. A dental practice won’t have the same needs as an ecommerce website. You get the idea. 

So as you’re evaluating a potential provider, take a look at their existing clients and industries served. Do they have experience covering businesses in your industry? If not, look elsewhere.

Customer Service

If you have to submit a claim, you want to make sure that your insurance provider has your back. When you pick up the phone, will someone answer?

Any delay in the claims process will cost your business money. Let’s say there is a flood at your retail storefront. If your insurance company drags their feet, you might not be able to re-open. How soon will someone come to evaluate the property? How quickly can they approve a contractor to repair the damages?

Choose an insurance company that will go the extra mile to serve your business in times when you need their help the most—that’s what you’re paying them for.

Reputation of Provider

There are literally thousands of insurance companies in the United States. Some are brand new, some have been around since the inception of insurance, and many fall somewhere in between.

In most cases, I prefer to go with an older insurance company with a long-standing reputation. These providers have seen it all, and they’ve survived the test of time. You run some risk if you go with a newer company. Let’s say you have some obscure or rare situation with a claim. It could be a first for a new company, and they might not know how to handle it. 

Coverage Options

We’ll talk about the different types of business insurance in greater detail shortly. But in a perfect world, you’d like to get all of your business insurance coverage under one roof. 

Getting property insurance from one provider, vehicle insurance from another, and general liability from a third company is just too confusing. So look for an insurance company that has a wide array of coverage options that accommodate your needs. 


Getting proper coverage is obviously important, but how much is this going to cost you?

If you choose the cheapest plan you can find, you’ll probably be exposed to some more out of pocket costs. But if you choose the most expensive plan on the market, do you actually need all of that coverage?

Look for a balance between these two extremes. When it comes to insurance, I typically like to be a bit more conservative. I’d rather overpay a little bit than risk not being fully covered. But this all depends on your individual risk tolerance. 

The Different Types of Business Insurance

There are dozens of different business insurance types. But for the purposes of this guide, I’m going to focus on the ones that are the most common and applicable to the masses. 

General Liability Insurance

General liability coverage protects you from risks like bodily injuries and property damage. This typically includes medical payments if someone is hurt on your company’s property. General liability can also protect you from lawsuits related to things like libel, slander, privacy violations, copyright infringement, wrongful evictions, and more. 

Most businesses will need some type of general liability coverage.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability and general liability are often confused with each other, although the two are not one in the same.

Professional liability insurance is also referred to as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. This protects businesses sued by clients claiming damages for professional services that you provide. Things like an accountant making a mistake on a tax return or a web developer making mistakes on a site that they manage would be examples where professional liability insurance is necessary. 

BOP Insurance

Business owners insurance (better known as BOP) is a policy that combines liability and property into one package. It’s very common for small and mid-sized business owners across a wide range of industries. Most contractors will carry some form of BOP insurance as well.

BOP packages do not cover your employees—it’s specific to business owners.  

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Once you hire your first employee, workers’ compensation should be immediately added to your business insurance policy. Most states require workers’ comp insurance by law. 

The coverage pays for things like medical expenses and disability for employees who were injured on the job. This could include minor slip and fall injuries to long-term conditions (like carpal tunnel) or even death.

Business Interruption Insurance

This type of insurance will protect your company if your operations are interrupted during some type of disaster or catastrophic event. Organizations with physical locations that could lose income due to these types of interruptions can benefit from a business interruption policy.

Your business can be compensated for lost income in these types of scenarios. 

Vehicle Insurance

This type of business insurance policy is pretty-self explanatory. Just like you need insurance for your personal vehicle, you’ll need to cover any vehicles used for business purposes. If an accident occurs with one of your vehicles (whether you’re driving or not), you’ll need this type of coverage. 

Property Insurance

Whether you own or lease physical space, you need to have property insurance. Again, it’s similar to the type of insurance you’d have to protect your home or apartment. 

This type of insurance will protect your business from events like fires or theft. Your equipment, inventory, furniture, etc. should all be covered in this policy. However, it’s worth noting that some types of natural disasters, like earthquakes, aren’t always covered in a standard property insurance policy. You might have to pay extra for this type of coverage, depending on your area and the insurance provider. 

Product Liability Insurance

If your company manufactures products that are sold to the general public, you must have product liability insurance. This coverage will protect your company from lawsuits related to damages caused by your products. 

For example, if someone is injured using one of your products, they could sue your company directly for their medical expenses. That’s when product liability insurance would kick in. 

#1 – Chubb Review — Most Versatile Business Insurance Packages

Chubb is one of the most reputable business insurance providers on the market today. They are known for exceptional customer service.

This provider has a wide range of plans for small businesses, commercial insurance, industry-specific policies, and more. 

Compared to other insurance providers on the market, Chubb has one of the most extensive coverage portfolios that you can find. Some examples of these policy categories include:

  • Accident and health
  • General liability
  • Cyber insurance
  • Environmental packages (premises pollution liability and contractor pollution liability)
  • International insurance packages
  • Management liability
  • Inland and ocean marine 
  • Product recall liability
  • Professional liability
  • Workers’ compensation

Chubb has over 200 years of experience in the business insurance space. Just be aware that their premiums tend to be a bit higher than other options—but you’re paying for the best.  

#2 – CNA Review — The Best Custom Business Insurance Plans

CNA is another reputable provider in the business insurance world. They have 120+ years of expertise in this field. 

With CNA, you’ll benefit from a custom insurance package to help manage your risks and liabilities.

There are certain industries that CNA has the most experience working with; these include construction, education, manufacturing, healthcare, real estate, wholesale, technology, professional services, finance, and more.

Here’s a quick glance at some of the types of business insurance offered by CNA:

  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Professional liability insurance (errors and omissions)
  • Property insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Business interruption insurance
  • General liability insurance
  • Equipment breakdown insurance

I like CNA because you can pick and choose which types of coverage you need, and get them bundled into a single policy that’s custom fit to your needs. 

#3 – Hiscox Review — Best For Small Business Insurance

Hiscox is my top recommendation for small business owners. Their policies are affordable, while still providing you with enough coverage to protect your organization from a wide range of potential scenarios.

When I say that Hiscox is great for small businesses, I mean ALL small businesses. They’re currently providing protection to organizations in 180+ different industries. 

The list of coverage types offered by Hiscox isn’t quite as extensive as some of the other options on the market today. But they still have more than enough options to accommodate the needs of most businesses.

  • General liability insurance for small business
  • Professional liability (E&O) insurance for small business
  • Business owners policy (BOP) for small business
  • Short-term liability insurance for small business
  • Cyber insurance for small business
  • Workers’ comp for small business
  • Commercial auto insurance for small business
  • Umbrella insurance for small business
  • Employment practices liability insurance for small business

Hiscox is an established name in the business insurance world. They’ve been around since 1901 and insure 300,000+ small businesses across the US.

#4 – Insureon Review — Best Business Insurance Marketplace

Technically speaking, Insureon isn’t actually an insurance provider; it’s an online marketplace for business insurance.

But this robust platform definitely deserves a spot on my list. Insureon is super easy to use, and it’s the best way to compare coverage options from different providers in a single place.

If you’re looking to get the best possible rate, I strongly recommend Insureon. Otherwise, you’d have to get quotes from different providers individually, which is much more of a hassle.

Insureon allows you to compare free quotes from some of the top-rated and well-known business insurance providers on the market today (including some of the options on our list).

  • Travelers
  • Chubb
  • Hiscox
  • Hannover
  • The Hartford
  • Liberty Mutual
  • AmTrust Financial

The list goes on and on. You can browse policies for professional liability insurance, cyber liability insurance, BOP policies, general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and more.

Insureon is typically geared toward smaller businesses. But it’s used across a wide range of different industries. 

#5 – Progressive Review — The Best For Commercial Auto Insurance

Progressive is an industry leader in the commercial auto coverage space. 

With 45+ years of experience, they aren’t quite as old as some other players in the industry. However, Progressive is definitely a well-established and trustworthy provider for commercial auto policies.

Here’s a list of some common types of business vehicles insured by Progressive:

  • Buses
  • Limousines
  • Trucks
  • Vans
  • Landscaping vehicles
  • Tow trucks
  • Box trucks
  • Snow plows
  • Sports utility vehicles (for hauling cargo and transporting products)
  • Pickup trucks
  • Trailers

It’s worth noting that there are certain types of vehicles that Progressive will NOT insure. This includes emergency vehicles (like fire trucks and ambulances), golf carts, double-decker buses, monster trucks, race cars, wheelchair buses, and a few others. 

In addition to the commercial policies, Progressive also has coverage for general liability, BOP, professional liability, workers’ comp, and more. 

#6 – The Hartford Review — The Best For Workers’ Comp

For those of you who don’t know, Hartford, Connecticut is known as the “insurance capital of the world.” So it’s no surprise to see The Hartford (named for its headquarters’ namesake) on our list.

This company was founded more than two centuries ago, back in 1810. To say they are a well-established name in the business insurance industry would be a drastic understatement. 

The Hartford has an extensive list of product offerings for business insurance. Some of their most popular policies include:

  • Business owners’ policy (BOP) insurance
  • General liability insurance
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Business income insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Commercial property insurance
  • Commercial flood insurance
  • Home-based business insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Multinational business insurance

Overall, the workers’ comp coverages provided by The Hartford are second to none. If you want to give your employees the very best protection, look no further than The Hartford. 


In a market saturated with business insurance options, there are really only six choices that I’d consider. 

If you choose one of the names reviewed above, you can rest easy knowing that your business is being protected from a well-established and reputable provider. 

Be sure to use the methodology I described earlier as you’re shopping around and evaluating different options. That’s the only way to get the best possible business insurance policy for your company. 

The post Best Business Insurance appeared first on Neil Patel.


The 6 Best Digital Strategy Companies of 2020

According to Smart Insights, 49 percent of organizations don’t have a clearly defined digital strategy. 

Choosing the right digital strategy for your business is essential. Experience helps you sift through what to do differently, what not to do, and where to focus your energy. Having a fresh perspective from an outside eye can make all the difference. What’s more important is choosing a company that can execute that strategy. 

When you need to choose the best digital strategy company, you may be wondering where to start. Here’s a list of our picks for the best digital strategy companies in the world.

1. Neil Patel Digital — Best For Content Marketing & Digital Strategy

I’ve written more than 4,294 blog posts in 10 years. I’ve created millions of words and I’ve used content marketing to build three companies of my own. I used content marketing to generate 195,013 visitors a month and I’ve done the same things for my fortune 500 clients. When it comes to digital strategy and content marketing I’ve shown it can work. 

I do the same thing for clients with my agency, NP Digital. We help our clients develop a digital strategy that maximizes the results they achieve with their content marketing, advertising, and SEO campaigns. 

The focus with our digital strategy is revenue. Everything we do is focused on producing real results for businesses whether that’s more traffic, leads, or revenue. 

NP Digital’s client list includes:

  • Facebook
  • Viacom
  • Google
  • GM
  • eBay
  • NBC
  • Thomson Reuters foundation
  • TechCrunch
  • Cheezburger
  • American Greetings

2. REQ – Best for Enterprise Business Strategy

REQ is a Washington DC based, award-winning agency with enterprise-level experience. They’re industry veterans with some of the best talent in the business. 

Projects start at $50,000. They offer a comprehensive suite of solutions for your marketing and digital strategy needs. Including: 

  • Advertising & Media
  • Digital Advocacy
  • Brand Strategy
  • Reputation Management
  • Public Relations
  • Data & Analytics

They’ve been named to both the Inc.500 and Deloitte Fast 500 lists – they’re one of the fastest growing companies in America. They have offices in Washington, DC, New York, Boston, San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

REQ’s client list includes:

  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • StubHub
  • Sweet Green
  • Mastercard
  • Empire State Building
  • Constellation Energy

3. Usman Group – Best for Mid-market Business Strategy

With 80% of its clients in mid-market range, earning between 10M – 1B, the Usman Group specializes in digital strategy and market research. They provide analysis, strategy, execution, and measurement to help clients deploy successful campaigns.   

They apply the four key principles of design thinking, learn from people, identify patterns, make solutions tangible, iterate continuously, in all of their client engagements.

Projects start at $10,000. You get a hand-picked team that will provide evidence-based, practical strategy and recommendations.

Usman Group’s client list includes:

  • Red Prairie
  • University of Chicago
  • National Safety Council
  • Chicago Sun Times
  • Priceline
  • Baird

4. DeSantis Breindel – Best for Branding Strategy

DeSantis Breindel is a New York City based digital strategy company that specializes in end-to-end branding strategy. They help businesses with brand differentiation, customer experience, merger & acquisition branding, brand valuation, brand launch, and employee engagement.

Projects start at $75,000. They offer thorough research and measurement for your digital branding, brand identity and strategy, content marketing, customer experience design, and film production services.

DeSantis Breindel’s client list includes:

  • Verifone
  • Lathrop Gage
  • OneSpan
  • SailPoint
  • Lincoln International
  • Lewis Roca

5. Mabbly – Best for Data Analysis, Channel Strategy

Mabbly is a Chicago based strategic design agency that relies on digital strategy, market research, and data analytics. They focus on turning complex problems into growth opportunities. Supporting human connection with digital experiences, via sophisticated design and data-backed digital strategy.

Mabbly’s team of digital and brand strategists work together to curate a channel strategy that combines the message along with the medium that’s right for your business opportunity. Projects start at $25,000. 

Mabbly’s client list includes:

  • Edelman
  • Microsoft
  • Berkshire Group
  • Griffith Foods
  • 21st Century Fox
  • Limitless Coffee & Tea
  • ShopRunner

6. Ironpaper – Best for Small Business 

Ironpaper bills itself as a B2B growth agency. Their conversion growth strategy is focused on gaining traction with growth up to 1 percent. The growth phase is set at 1 to 3 percent, with anything above 3 percent listed as scaling. 

What’s interesting about Ironpaper is the fact that they discuss the elephant in the room. 

“Oftentimes, enterprises try to answer the question, ‘What is a good conversion rate?’’ without any context. What is a good conversion rate? When establishing conversion rates, context is everything.

A lack of context can actually do harm to a marketing team, because it causes teams to make the wrong assumptions.”

This tells you that Ironpaper isn’t focused on vanity metrics or conversion manipulation. They know the difference between high and low value conversions. Their projects start at $10,000 and are focused on small businesses.

Iron Paper’s client list includes:

  • Nokia
  • Echo226
  • Telmar
  • Mformation
  • Arago

3 Characteristics That Make a Great Digital Strategy Company

Your digital strategy company should be able to provide you with specifics ahead of time. While many companies are able to provide you with amazing strategies, many are unwilling to demonstrate this ahead of time. 

1. Your agency asks the right questions

Creating an exceptional digital strategy begins with your agency asking the right questions. These questions determine what will be answered and where your answers will go. Here’s a small sample of the questions your agency should be asking. 

  • How is our business currently performing? 
  • Which parts of your business are underperforming?
  • What’s our goal for each area of our business? 
  • What do customers expect from our product and our business?
  • Which marketing channels are our customers active on?
  • Which marketing channels should we use to accomplish our goals?
  • Which metrics and KPIs will we use to evaluate performance?
  • How should we promote our products and services in the market to achieve our goals? 

These questions inform your digital strategy. 

  1. Why are we in business?
  2. Where are we right now?
  3. Where do we want to go? 
  4. How will we get there?

Your digital strategy framework should answer four high-level questions. Good digital marketing agencies should be asking these questions at the beginning of the engagement process. 

2. Your agency is willing to share strategy

The agency you choose should be willing to share sample strategies with you. This doesn’t mean that you should expect your agency to provide the entire strategy upfront, for free. Spec work isn’t ideal and that’s not what you’re looking for.

You’re looking for one example. 

They can share this with you over the phone, in your proposal or quote, or in a sample report. You’re looking for them to share a small snippet, a piece of their proposed digital strategy. This is important for several reasons. With sample data you can: 

  • Evaluate your agency’s competence 
  • Use sample data to evaluate potential performance
  • Assess their digital strategy or marketing priorities
  • Outline knowledge gaps and weak points in their process

You’re not asking for a comprehensive strategy document, you’re simply asking your agency to pick one part of your business and create a strategy around that; ask your agency a question (e.g., how would you increase sales for one of my products?). 

3. Your agency can implement Strategy

Venture Capitalist Arthur Rock, believes strategy is important, but not as important as people who can execute that strategy

“Over the past 30 years, I estimate that I’ve looked at an average of one business plan per day, or about 300 a year, in addition to the large numbers of phone calls and business plans that simply are not appropriate. Of the 300 likely plans, I may invest in only one or two a year; and even among those carefully chosen few, I’d say that a good half fail to perform up to expectations. 

The problem with those companies (and with the ventures I choose not to take part in) is rarely one of strategy. Good ideas and good products are a dime a dozen. Good execution and good management in a word, good people are rare.”

A great strategy isn’t enough. You need amazing people who can implement your digital strategy and produce the results you need to grow. 

Your agency should have two things: 

  1. A team that can implement your digital strategy
  2. A proven track record showing that they’ve achieved this consistently in the past

If they can provide you with both or they’re willing to provide you with a trial period where you’re able to test their ability to execute your digital strategy, then it may be a good fit. 

What To Expect From a Great Digital Strategy Company

Your agency should provide you with detailed specifics for each of these points. If you have more questions or concerns, you’ll want to bring those up with your agency. 

  • A clear track record: Your agency should be able to show you samples, references, case studies, and reviews showing that they’ve achieved results for other clients.
  • Clear milestones: You’re looking for clear milestones, timelines, and deliverables that show you’re able to create and implement a plan successfully. Your agency should be able to provide you with a timeline, explaining how long everything will take to implement, and when they anticipate you’ll begin seeing results.
  • Agency procedures: You’ll want to see how your agency plans on approaching your campaign or project. They should be able to break down the approach that goes into their strategy document; this document should clarify how they’ll approach your campaign, what you should expect, what their goals are and more.

The digital strategy company you choose should provide you with the options you need to implement the plan successfully.  


Choosing the right digital strategy for your business is essential. You need a plan to guide you, outlining where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. Having a fresh perspective from an outside eye can mean the difference between success and failure. 

Remember, executing your digital strategy plan is even more important than simply having a plan.  Use this pool to choose a digital strategy company that will partner with you to achieve your business goals.

The post The 6 Best Digital Strategy Companies of 2020 appeared first on Neil Patel.


How to Find Any Business Email Address

find any email address

The internet has made communication between businesses more accessible than ever. Collaboration and outreach can often be done with the touch of a button.

But sometimes, finding the email address of someone you’d like to communicate with can be such a hassle.

Getting someone’s contact info doesn’t have to be a headache. Today, I’ll show you how to get anyone’s business email address and teach you how to follow up with them effectively.

All it takes is a simple tool.

Why Would You Need to Find Someone’s Email Address?

You probably know sending unsolicited spam is a terrible idea. So what reason would you have to go tracking down someone’s email address?

Perhaps you need to get in direct contact with someone hard to reach like a CEO, manager, or investor. Maybe you’re trying to recruit a specialist or subject matter expert for contract work. Or you’re trying to get the email of a website or blog owner as a part of a link reclamation strategy.

Some of the examples listed above are forms of email prospecting, the process of researching and connecting with potential leads. Usually, the goal is to get a sale. But you may be after some other benefit like a review, information, or a collaboration.

While people can use the tools we discuss in this article for nefarious purposes, like sending unwanted spam, there are very legitimate reasons to track down someone’s email address.

Rather than waiting around for people to visit your site and reach out, you’re taking matters into your own hands. When done well, it can be one of the best ways to engage with leads and collaborators.

Cold outreach is a contentious subject, but it can be quite useful if you know what you’re doing. The problem is, most marketers are doing it wrong.

Don’t want to be one of them? Keep reading.

How Not to Use Email Search

While there are legitimate reasons to use email search, you’ll want to tread carefully to ensure you’re not sending spam.

What’s the big deal? Well, it could impact your email deliverability. If your domain gets reported frequently, even your legitimate messages will go straight to your target’s spam folder.

And in some countries, it’s downright illegal. In the US, due to the CAN-SPAM Act, it could get your business fined up to $43,280 for each spam email. That’s enough to put almost any small business into bankruptcy.

On top of these consequences, being spammy is going to get your messages ignored. It doesn’t work.

Cold emails and spam are very different things. Spam is an “unsolicited bulk email.” Cold outreach is identified by its personalization and relationship building.

Of course, it’s very easy to cross this line, so make sure you’re not breaking the CAN-SPAM Act.

  • If your message includes simple correspondence rather than an advertisement, only the following applies: Don’t use deceptive subject lines or To/From headers.
  • If it is an ad, identify it as such and include a way to opt-out of future emails.
  • Remove anyone who opts out from any mailing lists within ten days. (Better yet, don’t add people to your mailing lists without their permission.)
  • Include a physical address where you can be contacted.

This step also builds trust with users as they know the reason behind your email and how they can contact you to not receive more email if needed.

Don’t Just Advertise

It’s better to use email search to make meaningful connections with other businesses. Don’t use it solely to advertise, as it could turn your the people you’re trying to contact away.

If you’re sending the same carbon copy email to dozens of people, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s not the vest idea to buy email lists. While it may not be technically illegal, doing so may violate CAN-SPAM. It’s an easy way to get your domain blacklisted.

No one likes receiving unsolicited advertisements. All it does is ruin your reputation for a nominal clickthrough rate.

Instead of sending annoying spam and ensuring potential leads ignore you, let’s learn how to do it right.

Finding Your Target’s Email Address

First step: getting your prospect’s email.

How are we going to do that? It’s simple: with an email finder. When you can’t locate someone’s contact info, these tools are a lifesaver.

All you have to do is input someone’s name or website URL, and you instantly get their email. Sometimes these are scraped from the web. Other times, they are a guess based on other employees’ emails.

The Best Email Finders

It’s important to choose a reliable service, as high bounce rate affects your deliverability. One I recommend is Hunter because it’s easy to use and you get fifty free searches per month.

Hunter’s domain search product gives you access to the emails behind a website, while the Email Finder product gets you any person’s contact info. Let’s try it.

Visit the Email Finder page and type in the name of your prospect and their company’s domain. The results will pop up immediately.

hunter email finder

One cool thing you’ll notice is Hunter cites its sources. You can see where the suggestion came from and check yourself to ensure the information is correct.

It’s good to try out a range of email finders, as they may have different contact info. So if Hunter isn’t helping, FindThatLead and VoilaNorbert are two other services worth trying.

FindThatLead is made for B2B companies. With this tool, you can find leads, search by audience segment, or get someone’s email through social media.

findthatlead email finder

FindThatLead’s Email Sender is a great extra feature. It handles email automation for you and helps you build a campaign targeting the leads you gather.

VoilaNorbert brings a more sophisticated touch to email search. It’s not just a simple tool you plug a domain into; it’s a full service with bulk actions, integrations, and an API.

It runs primarily on a subscription model, but you can also buy one-use credits. Signing up gets you fifty leads for free.

Hunter is perfect if you need a simple email finder. FindThatLead is great for B2B businesses, and VoilaNorbert offers you a full suite of products that are worth the price tag.

Other Ways to Get a Prospect’s Email Address

Before you spend money on a tool you may not need, you might want to consider other ways of obtaining a prospect’s email.

First up: Google your prospect’s name and check if they have a personal website. Chances are, you can find their email on their site’s “About” page, or at least a “Contact” form. If you’re after someone who’s part of a company, you could also try using their business’ contact form on their site and ask to get connected to them.

Check their social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. If you’re lucky, their email will be right there in their bio.

You can also try Twitter Advanced Search.

Add your prospect’s Twitter name under “Accounts,” then try words like “contact,” “reach,” “email,” and “dot.”

Try ticking “Only show replies.” You’ll skip the irrelevant posts and get straight to previous contact requests.

Let’s see it in action with my Twitter profile.

find email twitter advanced search

There’s my email. Easy as that.

Reaching Out and Getting a Response

Cold emailing can make establishing the new relationship more difficult. Because it’s unsolicited, you’ll need to clearly state why you’re emailing them right off the bat.

You don’t want to blow it before you’ve even started, so let’s make sure you’re doing it right.

Use Templates as Inspiration

Below I provide some examples and templates you can use for your email sending. You can find plenty of others online, too.

But I don’t recommend copying and pasting your email to multiple prospects. People will see right through you if your emails aren’t personalized.

Templates are a good way to get an idea of what you should be doing. But sending impersonal, carbon copy emails to dozens of people usually won’t get many responses, as most email readers know how to spot something that isn’t personalized to them.

Use a template as a base, then build on it for your business’ needs.

Personalize Your Cold Outreach Email

Personalizing your emails is the best way to increase engagement. And it’s especially important when conducting cold outreach.

How do you personalize your email? Do your research! Subscribe to your prospect’s newsletter, read their articles, skim their books, etc. Find a conversation starter and something to leverage to get their attention.

Here’s an example:

Hey {name},

I just read your book {book title}, and it was insightful. {Mention something specific you liked about it.}

I run a {industry} business, and I still have some questions. Mind if I send them your way?


{your name}

You can also just include the questions in the email.

Another way to personalize your cold email is by bringing up a clear pain point you know your target is experiencing. Example:


I was browsing your website, and I noticed a few typos. {Link to page and description of the errors.}

I work for {company}. We provide affordable editing services for bloggers like you. Typos in your work can throw off readers, so we’d like to help you patch those up. Our services page is here if you’re interested {link}.


{your name}

Here we present an exact problem and point out where your prospect is experiencing it, then offer a solution. If you have any statistics to prove your service works, throw those in as well.

Email Image Best Practices

As you may know, including images in email marketing is a must, but what about professional B2B emails?

People have come up with plenty of creative ways to use images in cold outreach campaigns. The right image could make your pitch more memorable.

For correspondence and conversation-starters, simple is likely the best way to go.

Presentation is important, but your offer should stand on its own.

That said, if being simple isn’t working for you, give images a try. It could be a good way to increase engagement.

Make a Connection

Cold outreach is all well and good, but one of the best things you can do is to warm those emails up a little bit. You can do that by establishing a connection beforehand.

One way to warm up for an email campaign is to contact your target via their social media accounts. Shooting them a simple direct message through Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. might make them more receptive to your offer.

Unfortunately, sometimes you can do hours of research, write the perfect personalized email, and still get ignored.

But what if you strike up a dialogue and get to know your prospect first? Or even reach out and ask for their email directly rather than going around them to find it?

That’s a much better way of getting results.


Email finders are a vital part of an outreach strategy, but finding someone’s email is only half the battle.

You need to put work in, do your research, write a personalized email, and make it creative, so it doesn’t get sent to the trash.

Your goal isn’t just to advertise your services. It’s to create a real relationship that’s mutually beneficial to both parties.

Use email finders for good intentions, like making connections, reaching out, and establishing working relationships. Do not use it for evil, like spamming and sending mindless sales emails.

What are your cold outreach strategies that have gotten the best results?

The post How to Find Any Business Email Address appeared first on Neil Patel.


The Theory Behind Ranking Factors — Whiteboard Friday

Posted by rjonesx.

Since day one of SEO, marketers have tried to determine what factors Google takes into account when ranking results on the SERPs. In this brand new Whiteboard Friday, Russ Jones discusses the theory behind those ranking factors, and gives us some improved definitions and vocabulary to use when discussing them.

Agency tactics

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Video Transcription

Hi, folks. Welcome back to another Whiteboard Friday. Today, we’re going to be talking about ranking factors and the theory behind them, and hopefully get past some of these — let’s say controversies — that have come up over the years, when we’ve really just been talking past one another.

You see, ranking factors have been with us since pretty much day one of search engine optimization. We have been trying as SEOs to identify exactly what influences the algorithm. Well, that’s what we’re going to go over today, but we’re going to try and tease out some better definitions and vocabulary so that we’re not talking past one another, and we’re not constantly beating each other over the heads about correlation and not causation, or some other kind of nuance that really doesn’t matter.


So let’s begin at the beginning with direct ranking factors. This is the most narrow kind of understanding of ranking factors. It’s not to say that it’s wrong — it’s just pretty restrictive. A direct ranking factor would be something that Google measures and directly influences the performance of the search result.

So a classic example would actually be your robots.txt file. If you make a change to your robots.txt file, and let’s say you disallow Google, you will have a direct impact on your performance in Google. Namely, your site is going to disappear.

The same is true for the most part with relevancy. Now, we might not know exactly what it is that Google is using to measure relevancy, but we do know that if you improve the relevancy of your content, you’re more likely to rank higher. So these are what we would call direct ranking factors. But there’s obviously a lot more to it than that.

Google has added more and more features to their search engine. They have changed the way that their algorithm has worked. They’ve added more and more machine learning. So I’ve done my best to try and tease out some new vocabulary that we might be able to use to describe the different types of ranking factors that we often discuss in our various communities or online.


Now, obviously, if there are direct ranking factors, it seems like there should be indirect ranking factors. And these are just once-removed ranking factors or interventions that you could take that don’t directly influence the algorithm, but they do influence some of the direct ranking factors which influence the algorithm.

I think a classic example of this is hosting. Let’s say you have a site that’s starting to become more popular and it’s time to move off of that dollar-a-month cPanel hosting that you signed up for when you first started your blog. Well, you might choose to move to, let’s say, a dedicated host that has a lot more RAM and CPU and can handle more threads so everything is moving faster.

Time to first byte is faster. Well, Google doesn’t have an algorithm that’s going out and digging into your server and identifying exactly how many CPU cores there are. But there are a number of direct ranking factors, those that are related perhaps to user experience or perhaps to page speed, that might be influenced by your hosting environment.

Subsequently, we have good reason to believe that improving your hosting environment could have a positive influence on your search rankings. But it wouldn’t be a direct influence. It would be indirect. 

The same would be true with social media. While we’re pretty sure that Google isn’t just going out and saying, “Okay, whoever is the most popular on Twitter is going to rank,” there is good reason to believe that investing your time and your money and your energy in promoting your content on social media can actually influence your search results.

A perfect example of this would be promoting an article on Facebook, which later gets picked up by some online publication and then links back to your site. So while the social media activity itself did not directly influence your search results, it did influence the links, and those links influenced your search results.

So we can call these indirect ranking factors. For politeness’ sake, please, when someone talks about social media as a ranking factor, just don’t immediately assume that they mean that it is a direct ranking factor. They very well may mean that it is indirect, and you can ask them to clarify:  “Well, what do you mean? Do you think Google measures social media activity, or are you saying that doing a better job on social is likely to influence search results in some way or another?” 

So this is part of the process of teasing out the differences between ranking factors. It gives us the ability to communicate about them in a way in which we’re not, let’s say, confusing what we mean by the words.


Now, the third type is probably the one that’s going to be most controversial, and I’m actually okay with that. I would love to talk in either the comments or on Twitter about exactly what I mean by emergent ranking factors. I think it’s important that we get this one clear in some way, shape, or form because I think it’s going to be more and more and more important as machine learning itself becomes more and more and more important as a part of Google’s algorithm.

Many, many years ago, search engine optimizers like myself noticed that web pages on domains that had strong link authority seemed to do well in organic search results, even when the page itself wasn’t particularly good, didn’t have particularly good external links — or any at all, and even didn’t have particularly good internal links.

That is to say it was a nearly orphaned page. So SEOs started to wonder whether or not there was some sort of domain-level attribute that Google was using as a ranking factor. We can’t know that. Well, we can ask Google, but we can only hope that they’ll tell us.

So at Moz, what we decided to do was try and identify a series of domain-level link metrics that actually predict the likelihood that a page will perform well in the search results. We call this an emergent ranking factor, or at least I call it an emergent ranking factor, because it is obviously the case that Google does not have a specific domain-authority-like feature inside their algorithm.

But on the contrary, they also do have a lot of data about links pointing to different pages on that same domain. What I believe is going on is what I would call an emergent ranking factor, which is where, let’s say, the influence of several different metrics — none of which have a particularly intended purpose of creating something — end up being easy to measure and to talk about as an emergent ranking factor, rather than as part of all of its constituent elements.

Now, that was kind of a mouthful, so let me give you an example. When you’re making a sauce if you’re cooking, one of the most common parts of that would be the production of a roux. A roux would be a mix, normally of equal weights of flour and fat, and you would use this to thicken the sauce.

Now, I could write an entire recipe book about sauces and never use the word “roux”.  Just don’t use it, and describe the process of producing a roux a hundred times, but never actually use the word “roux”, because “roux” describes this intermediate state. But it becomes very, very useful as a chef to be able to just say to another chef (or a sous-chef, or a cook in their cookbook), “produce a roux out of” and then whatever is the particular fat that you’re using, whether it’s butter or oil or something of that sort.

So the analogy here is that there isn’t really a thing called a roux that’s inside the sauce. What’s in the sauce is the fat and the flour. But at the same time, it’s really convenient to refer to it as a roux. In fact, we can use the word “roux” to know a lot about a particular dish without ever talking about the actual ingredients of flour and of fat.

For example, we can be pretty confident that if a roux is called for in a particular dish, that dish is likely not bacon because it’s not a sauce. So I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that a lot of what we’re talking about with ranking factors is using language that is convenient and valuable for certain purposes.

Like DA is valuable for helping predict search results, but it doesn’t actually have to be a part of the algorithm in order to do that. In fact, I think there’s a really interesting example that’s going on right now — and we’re about to see a shift from the categories — which are Core Web Vitals.

Google has been pushing page speed for quite some time and has provided us several iterations of different types of metrics for determining how fast a page loads. However, what appears to be the case is that Google has decided not to promote individual, particular steps that a website could take in order to speed up, but instead wants you to maximize or minimize a particular emergent value that comes from the amalgamation of all of those steps.

We know that the three different types of Core Web Vitals are: first input delay, largest contentful paint, and cumulative layout shift. So let’s talk about the third one. If you’ve ever been on your cell phone and you’ve noticed that the text loads before certain other aspects and you start reading it and you try and scroll down and as soon as put your finger there an ad pops up because the ad took longer to load and it’s just jostling the page, well, that’s layout shift, and Google has learned that users just don’t like it. So, even though they don’t know all of the individual factors underneath that are responsible for cumulative layout shift, they know that there’s this measurement, that explains all of it, that is great shorthand, and a really effective way of determining whether or not a user is going to enjoy their experience on that page.

This would be an emergent ranking factor. Now, what’s interesting is that Google has now decided that this emergent ranking factor is going to become a direct ranking factor in 2021. They’re going to move these descriptive factors that are amalgamations of lots of little things and make them directly influence the search results.

So we can see how these different types of ranking factors can move back and forth from categories. Back to the question of domain authority. Now, Google has made it clear they don’t use Moz’s domain authority — of course they don’t — and they do not have a domain-authority-like metric. However, there’s nothing to say that at some point they could not build exactly that, some sort of domain-level, link-based metric which is used to inform how to rank certain pages.

So an emergent ranking factor isn’t stuck in that category. It can change. Well, that’s enough about emergent ranking factors. Hopefully, we can talk more about that in the comments. 


The next type I wanted to run through is what I would call a validating ranking factor. This is another one that’s been pretty controversial, which is the Quality Rating Guidelines’ list of things that matter, and probably the one that gets the most talked about is E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.

Well, Google has made it clear that not only do they not measure E-A-T (or at least, as best as I’ve understood, they don’t have metrics that are specifically targeted at E-A-T), not only do they not do that, they also, when they collect the data from quality raters on whether or not the SERPs they’re looking at meet these qualifications, they don’t train their algorithm against the labeled data that comes back from their quality raters, which, to me, is surprising.

It seems to me like if you had a lot of labeled data about quality, expertise, and authoritativeness, you might want it trained against that, but maybe Google found out that it wasn’t very productive. Nevertheless, we know that Google cares about E-A-T, and we also have anecdotal evidence.

That is to say webmasters have noticed over time, especially in “your money or your life” types of industries, that expertise and authority does appear to matter in some way, shape, or form. So I like to call these validating ranking factors because Google uses them to validate the quality of the SERPs and the sites that are ranking, but doesn’t actually use them in any kind of direct or indirect way to influence the search results.

Now, I’ve got an interesting one here, which is what I would call user engagement, and the reason why I’ve put it here is because this still remains to be a fairly controversial ranking factor. We’re not quite sure exactly how Google uses it, although we do get some hints every now and then like Core Web Vitals.

If that data is collected from actual user behavior in Chrome, then we’ve got an idea of exactly how user engagement could have an indirect impact on the algorithm because user engagement measures the Core Web Vitals, which, coming in 2021, are going to directly influence the search results.


So validating is this fourth category of ranking factors, and the last — the one that I think is the most controversial  — is correlates. We get into this argument every time: “correlation does not equal causation”, and it seems to me to be the statement that the person who only knows one thing about statistics knows, and so they always say it whenever anything ever comes up about correlation.

Yes, correlation does not imply causation, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t very, very useful. So let’s talk about social metrics. This is one of the classic ones. Several times we’ve run various studies of ranking factors and discovered a direct relationship — a strong relationship — between things like Facebook likes or Google pluses in rankings.

All right. Now, pretty much everyone immediately understood that the reason why a site would have more plus-ones in Google+ and would have more likes in Facebook would be because they rank. That is to say, it’s not Google going out and depending on Facebook’s API to determine how they’re going to rank the sites in their search engine.

On the contrary, performing well in their search engine drives traffic, and that traffic then tends to like the page. So I understand the frustration there when customers start asking, “Well, these two things correlate. Why aren’t you getting me more likes?”

I get that, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful in other ways. So I’ll give you a good example. If you are ranking well for a keyword but yet your social media metrics are poorer than your competitors’, well, it means that there’s something going on in that situation that is making your users engage better with your competitors’ sites than your own, and that’s important to know.

It might not change your rankings, but it might change your conversion rate. It might increase the likelihood that you get found on social media. Even more so, it could actually influence your search results. Because, when you recognize the reason why you’re not getting any likes to your page is because you have broken code, so the Facebook button isn’t working, and then you add it and you start getting shared and more and more people are engaging with and linking to your content, well, then we start having that indirect effect on your rankings.

So, yeah, correlation isn’t the same as causation, but there’s a lot of value there. There’s a new area that I think is going to be really, really important for this. This is going to be natural language processing metrics. These are various different technologies that are on the cutting edge. Well, some are older. Some are newer. But they allow us to kind of predict how good content is. 

Now, chances are we are not going to guess the exact way that Google is measuring content quality. I mean, unless a leaked document or something shows up, we’re probably not going to get that lucky. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be really productive if we have a number of correlates, and those correlates can then be used to guide us. 

So I drew a little map here to kind of serve as an example. Imagine that it’s the evening and you’re camping, and you decide to go on a quick hike, and you take with you, let’s say, a flag or a series of flags, and you mark the trail as you go so that when it gets later, you can flick on your flashlight and just follow the flags, picking them up, to lead you back to camp.

But it gets super dark, and then you realize you left your flashlight back at camp. What are you going to do? Well, we need to find a way to guide ourselves back to camp. Now, obviously, the flags would have been the best situation, but there are lots of things that are not the camp itself and are not the path itself, but would still be really helpful in getting us back to camp. For example, let’s say that you had just put out the fire after you left camp. Well, the smell of the smoke is a great way for you to find your way back to the camp, but the smoke isn’t the camp. It didn’t cause the camp. It didn’t build the camp. It’s not the path. It didn’t create the path. In fact, the trail of smoke itself is probably quite off the path, but once you do find where it crosses you, you can follow that scent. Well, in that case, it’s really valuable even though it just mildly correlates with exactly where you need to get.

Well, the same thing is true when we’re talking about something like NLP metrics or social media metrics. While they might not matter in terms of influencing the search results directly, they can guide your way. They can help you make better decisions. The thing you want to stay away from is manipulating these types of metrics for their own sake, because we know that correlates are the furthest away from direct ranking factors — at least when we know that the correlate itself is not a direct ranking factor.

All right. I know that’s a lot to stomach, a lot to take in. So hopefully, we have some material for us to discuss below in the comments, and I look forward to talking with you more. Good luck. Bye.

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