All posts by eriginnews

Getting Around the “One Form” Problem in Unbounce

Posted by R0bin_L0rd

What is Unbounce?

Unbounce is a well-known and well-regarded landing page creation tool designed to allow HTML novices to create impressive and impactful landing pages, while offering scope for more experienced coders to have a bit more fun.

In this post, I’m going to list some solutions to what I refer to as the “one form” problem of Unbounce, their strengths and weaknesses, and which I personally prefer.

What is the “one form” problem?

As with any system that tries to take complex processes and make them simple to implement, there’s a certain amount of nuance and flexibility that has to be sacrificed.

One limitation is that each landing page on Unbounce can only have one embedded form (there are a few community articles discussing the topic, for instance: 1, 2, 3). While there’s a definite risk of call-to-action fatigue if you bombard your visitors with forms, it’s a reasonable requirement to want to provide easy access to your form at more than one point.

For example, you could lead with a strong call to action and the form at the top of the page, then follow up further down the page when users have had time to absorb more information about your offering. A simple example of this is the below Teambit landing page, which was featured in Hubspot’s 16 of the Best Landing Page Design Examples You Need to See in 2017.

The top of this Teambit page features a simple email collection form

The form is repeated at the bottom of the page once visitors have had a chance to read more.

Potential solutions to the one-form issue

Now that we’ve established the problem, let’s run through some solutions, shall we?

Fortunately, there are a few possible ways to solve this problem, either using built-in Unbounce tools or by adding code through open HTML, CSS, and JavaScript inputs.

It’s worth bearing in mind that one solution is to not have the form on your page at all, and have your call-to-action buttons linking to other pages with forms. This is the approach Unbounce uses in the example below. While that’s a perfectly valid approach, I wouldn’t call it so much a solution to this problem as a completely different format, so I haven’t included it in the list below.

Here Unbounce use two CTAs (the orange buttons), but don’t rely on having the form on the page.

1. Scrolling anchor button

This is potentially the simplest solution, as it’s natively supported by Unbounce:

  1. Create a button further down the page where you would want your second form.
  2. Edit that button, in the “Click Action” section of the right-hand button settings panel, where you would normally put the URL you are linking to
  3. Add in the unique ID code for the box that holds your form (you can find that by editing the box and scrolling to the bottom of the right-hand panel to “Element Metadata”)

Register button

“Click Action” section of right-hand button settings panel

“Element Metadata” section at bottom of right-hand element setting panel


Quick and easy to implement, little direct JavaScript or HTML manipulation needed.


There are far more seamless ways to achieve this from the user perspective. Even with smooth scrolling (see “bonus points” below), the experience can be a little jarring for users, particularly if they want to go back to check information elsewhere on a page.

Bonus points

Just adding that in as-is will mean a pretty jarring experience for users. When they click the button, the page will jump back to your form as though it’s loaded a new page. To help visitors understand what’s going on, add smooth scrolling through JavaScript. Unbounce has how-to information here.

Double bonus

The link anchors work by aligning the top of your screen with the top of the thing you’ve anchored. That can leave it looking like you’ve undershot a bit, because the form is almost falling off the screen. You can solve this simply by putting a tiny, one-pixel-wide box a little bit above the form, with no fill or border, positioning it how you want, and linking to the ID of that box instead, allowing a bit of breathing room above your form.

Without and with the one-pixel-wide box for headroom

2. iFrames

Unbounce allows free blocks, which you can use to embed a form from another service or even another Unbounce page that consists of only a form. You’ll need to drag the “Custom HTML” block from the left bar to where you want the form to be and paste in your iFrame code.

The “Custom HTML” block in the left-hand bar

Blank HTML box that pops up

How HTML blocks look in the editor


This will allow for multiple forms, for each form to be positioned differently on the page, to function in a different way, and for entries to each form to be tagged differently (which will offer insight on the effectiveness of the page).

This solution will also allow you to make the most of functionality from other services, such as Wufoo (Unbounce has documented the process for that here).


Having chosen Unbounce as a one-stop-shop for creating landing pages, breaking out of that to use external forms could be considered a step away from the original purpose. This also introduces complications in construction, because you can’t see how the form will look on the page in the editing mode. So your workflow for changes could look like:

  1. Change external form
  2. Review page and see styling issues
  3. Change layout in Unbounce editor
  4. Review page and see that the external form isn’t as readable
  5. Change external form
  6. Etc.

Bonus points

Unbounce can’t track conversions through an iFrame, so even if you use another Unbounce page as the form you draw in, you’re going to be breaking out of Unbounce’s native tracking. They have a script here you can use to fire external tracking hits to track page success more centrally so you get more of a feel for whether individual pages are performing well.

Double bonus

Even if you’re using an identical Unbounce page to pull through the same form functionality twice, tag the form completions differently to give you an idea of whether users are more likely to convert at the top of the page before they get distracted, or lower down when they have had time to absorb the benefits of your offering.

3. Sticky form (always there)

An option that will keep everything on the same page is a sticky form. You can use CSS styling to fix it in place on a screen rather than on a page, then when your visitor scrolls down, the form or CTA will travel with them – always within easy reach.

This simple CSS code will fix a form on the right-hand side of a page for screen widths over 800px (that being where Unbounce switches from Desktop to Mobile design, meaning the positioning needs to be different).

Each ID element below corresponds to a different box which I wanted to move together. You’ll need to change the “lp-pom-box-xxx” below to match the IDs of what you want to move down the page with the user (you can find those IDs in the “Element Metadata” section as described in the Scrolling Anchor Button solution above).

@media (min-width: 800px) {
#lp-pom-box-56{ position:fixed; left:50%; margin-left: 123px; top:25%; margin-top:-70px}
#lp-pom-form-59{ position:fixed; left:50%; margin-left: 141px; top:25%; margin-top:60px}
#lp-pom-box-54{ position:fixed; left:50%; margin-left: 123px; top:25%; margin-top:50px}}


This allows you to keep tracking within Unbounce. It cuts out a lot of the back and forth of building the form elsewhere and then trying to make that form, within an iFrame, act on your page the way you want it to.


The problem with this is that users can quickly become blind to a CTA that travels with them, adding some kind of regular attention seeking effect is likely to just annoy them. The solution here is to have your call to action or form obscured during parts of the page, only to reappear at other, more appropriate times (as in the next section).

It can be difficult to see exactly where the form will appear because your CSS changes won’t take effect in the editor preview, but you will be able to see the impact when you save and preview the page.

4. Sticky form (appearing and disappearing)

The simplest way to achieve this is using z-index. In short, the z-index is a way of communicating layers through HTML, an image with a z-index of 2 will be interpreted as closer to the user than a box with a z-index of 1, so when viewing the page it’ll look like the image is in front of the box.

For this method, you’ll need some kind of opaque box in each section of your page. The box can be filled with a color, image, gradient – it doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t transparent. After you’ve put the boxes in place, make a note of their z-index, which you can find in the “Meta Data” section of the right-hand settings bar, the same place that the Element ID is shown.

This box has a z-index of 31, so it’ll cover something with an index of 30

Then use CSS to select the elements you’re moving down the page and set their z-index to a lower number. In the below lines I’ve selected two elements and set their z-index to 30, which means that they’ll be hidden behind the box above, which has a z-index of 31. Again, here you’ll want to replace the IDs that start #lp-pom-box-xxxx with the same IDs you used in the Sticky Form (Always There) solution above.

#lp-pom-box-133{z-index: 30; }
#lp-pom-box-135{z-index: 30; }

When you’re choosing the place where you want your form to be visible again, just remove any items that might obscure the form during that section. It’ll scroll into view.


This will allow you to offer a full form for users to fill out, at different points on the page, without having to worry about it becoming wallpaper or whether you can marry up external conversions. Using only CSS will also mean that you don’t have to worry about users with JavaScript turned off (while the bonus points below rely on JavaScript, this will fall back gracefully if JavaScript is turned off).


Unlike the iFrame method, this won’t allow you to use more than one form format. It also requires a bit more CSS knowledge (and the bonus points will require at least a bit of trial and error with JavaScript).

Bonus points

Use JavaScript to apply and remove CSS classes based on your scrolling position on the page. For example you can create CSS classes like these which make elements fade in and out of view.


@media (min-width: 800px) {
/* make the opacity of an element 0 where it has this class */
.hide {
opacity: 0;
/* instead of applying an effect immediately, apply it gradually over 0.2 seconds */ .transition {
-webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out;
-moz-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out;
-o-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out;
transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out;

You could then use this JavaScript to apply the .hide class when user scrolls through certain points, and remove it when they get to the points where you want them to see the form. This can be used for finer-grained control of where the form appears, without having to just cover it up. As before, you’ll need to update the #lp-pom-box-xxx strings to match the IDs in your account.


// This script applies the “hide” class, which makes opacity zero, to certain elements when we scroll more than 100 pixels away from the top of the page. Effectively, if we scroll down the page these items will fade away.
$(window).scroll(function() {
if ($(window).scrollTop() > 100 ){
// This section removes the hide class if we're less than 500 pixels from the bottom of the page or scroll back up to be less than 100 from the top. This means that those elements will fade back into view when we're near the bottom of the page or go back to the top.
if ($(document).height() - ($(window).height() + $(window).scrollTop()) < 500 ||
$(window).scrollTop() < 100 ){

Double bonus

You could consider using JavaScript to selectively hide or show form fields at different points. That would allow you to show a longer form initially, for example, and a shorter form when it appears the second time, despite it actually being the same form each time.

For this, you’d just add to your .scroll JavaScript function above:

 if ($(document).height() - ($(window).height() + $(window).scrollTop()) < 75){ 
// This part hides the “full name” part of the form, moves the submit button up and reduces the size of the box when we scroll down to less than 75 pixels away from the bottom of the page
$('#lp-pom-box-54').stop().animate({height: "200px"},200);
$('.lp-pom-button-60-unmoved').animate({top: '-=75'}, 200);
// This part adds the “full name” part back in to the form, moves the submit button back down and increases the size of the box if we scroll back up.
$('#lp-pom-box-54').stop().animate({height: "300px"},200);
$('.lp-pom-button-60-moved').animate({top: '+=75'}, 200);

When scrolling within 75px of the bottom of the page, our JavaScript hides the Full Name field, reduces the size of the box, and moves the button up. This could all happen when the form is hidden from view; I’ve just done it in view to demonstrate.


In the table below I’ve pulled together a quick list of the different solutions and their strengths and weaknesses.




Scrolling anchor button

Easy implementation, little coding needed

Jarring user experience


Multiple different forms

Requires building the form elsewhere and introduces some styling and analytics complexity to workflow

Sticky form (always there)

Keeps and design tracking within one Unbounce project

CTA fatigue, using up a lot of page space

Sticky form (appearing and disappearing)

The benefits of a sticky form, plus avoiding the CTA fatigue and large space requirement

CSS knowledge required, can only use one form

Personally, my favorite has been the Sticky Form (appearing and disappearing) option, to reduce the need to integrate external tools, but if I had to use multiple different forms I could definitely imagine using an iFrame.

Which is your favorite? Have I missed any cool solutions? Feel free to ping me in the comments.

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The Moz Year in Review 2017

Posted by SarahBird

Yay! We’ve traversed another year around the sun. And I’m back with another Moz year-in-review post that promises to be as boring as its predecessors. Reading it feels like being locked in your tin can space capsule through lightyears of empty space. If you’re a little odd and like this kind of thing, do please continue.

Before we begin our odyssey, I invite you to check out previous reports: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012. Transparency is a Moz core value. Putting detailed financial and customer data on the blog is one of the ways we live our values. We’re a little weird like that.

Image: Tesla's red car in outer space, floating past Earth with Rocketman at the wheel

Okay spacepeople: take your protein pills and put your helmets on.

Launch to your favorite parts:

Part 1: TL;DR

Commencing countdown, engines on

Part 2: SO MANY wins

Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare

Part 3: Customer metrics

You’ve really made the grade

Part 4: Financial performance

And the stars look very different today

Part 5: Inside Moz HQ

The papers want to know whose shirts you wear

Part 6: Into the future

I think my spaceship knows which way to go

Part 1: TL;DR

Commencing countdown, engines on

What a year! 2017 was a time of doing new things differently – new teams, new goals, and new ways of operating. I’m so proud of Mozzers; they can do anything. If I’m sent to a far-off space colony, I want them with me.

In spite of (and because of!) all this change, we grew revenue and became significantly EBITDA and cash flow positive. Nice! We have a nice economic engine primed and ready to make some more big investments in 2018. Stay tuned.

These positive results were not from one single thing. Rather, iterative product and operations improvements helped improve both our top and bottom line. Plus, we made a bunch of longer-term investments that don’t show up yet in the 2017 report but will bear fruit in 2018 and beyond.

Part 2: Ch-ch-ch… Changes!

Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare

Here’s a little more detail on some of the changes I talked about.

We launched Keywords By Site, relaunched our crawler (a major technical undertaking), sunsetted two products (content and Followerwonk), built a bunch of new developer tools and standardized on some dev frameworks, and improved our local data distribution network. Check out Adam Feldstein’s post for a lot more detail on our 2017 major product accomplishments!

We’ve got another exciting launch on the way, too. We’ve invested a ton of blood, sweat, and tears into it during 2017 and can’t wait to share it with everyone.

All of these changes support our 2016 strategy of “more wood behind fewer arrows.” We choose to focus our energy on being the best place to learn and do SEO. Our mission is to simplify SEO for everyone through software, education, and community.

For those of you worried about Followerwonk, it’s going to be okay. Better than okay. Our beloved “Work Dad” Marc Mims is now the proud father of Followerwonk! Marc’s dedication to the success of Followerwonk has never wavered over the many, many years he’s been building and maintaining it. We already miss his compassion, humor, and bike stories around the Mozplex. We wish him and Followerwonk the best! We bought that product because we loved it then; we love it even now. Sadly, though, it never quite fit with our mission as well as we’d hoped.

We created new programs to help people get the SEO help that’s right for them. We completely rebuilt our SEO Learning Center with fresh educational content. There’s a brand-new SEO podcast, MozPod, for you to check out.

We also began experimenting with and are now expanding SEO training workshops delivered by experts we trust and admire. I’m so excited about this because it’s a new way for Moz to have impact; it’s personal, live, interactive, and immediate in a way that most of our SEO education work can’t be. We won’t stop doing free, scalable education. It’s core to our beliefs. But it is fun to deliver custom, live training sessions in the mix too.

1340 Training registrations. Training programs offer live webinars taught by real SEO instructors.

5574 Walthroughs completed. Book your walkthrough to get 1:1 time with a Moz expert and learn how the tools can help you achieve your SEO goals.

Many of our accomplishments are behind the scenes, and will deliver long-term positive impact.

Our investments in retiring tech debt, improving monitoring, investing in our development platforms, and nurturing our engineering culture have resulted in the most stable and performant software in Moz history. Our hard work and ingenuity is paying off in resilient and performant software.

We’ve also rebuilt most of our customer stack: new Salesforce implementation, HubSpot launch, new internal data warehouse, new CMS (Craft),, and more! Phew! That’s a lot! In Q1 2018, we started with Terminus for Account-Based Marketing, and partnered with third-party data vendors, like Full Contact, to supplement our data warehouse. These big changes are going to set us up really well for the years ahead. And we’ve got more internal tools launching soon!

Image: an animated gif of rockets boosting

We are on a roll with internal improvements and momentum.

Part 3: Customer metrics

You’ve really made the grade

We could ship and launch until our circuits go dead, but at the end of the day all our work is in service of meeting your needs.

Image: stats about community & customer numbers

Image: graph showing +9% increase in organic traffic to

We know you can hear us! You’re following us now more than ever before.

Image: stats about social media followers

Part 4: Financial performance

And the stars look very different today

Check out the infographic view of our data barf.

I’m proud of what we accomplished in 2017, especially considering the incredible amount of change in strategy and team structure. More revenue while spending less = magic! Also, the economic strength we’ve built will allow us to place some nice-sized bets this year. Boom!

We made $47.4 million in GAAP revenue in 2017, an increase of 11% from 2016.

$47.4 million. 2017 revenue

We brought our over all expenses way down in 2017. Cost of Revenue increased slightly to $11.8 million. We reduced operating expenses aggressively. Curious on what we spend on, and trends? Check out this breakdown of our major expenses (OpEx and Cost of Revenue) as a percentage of annual revenue:

Image: Major expenses graphed for 2013 through 2017

We generated cash, positive EBITDA, and for the first time in recent Moz history, we were positive net income.

$5.5 million EBITDA gain. EBIDTA is one of our superstar metrics at $5.5 million, an 11.5% improvement!

That’s quite a turnaround from 2016, in which we closed the year negative EBITDA of $5.7 million! We flipped EBITDA! We have adopted a cash-flow-neutral-to-positive operating philosophy right now to be ready for some future investments. We may decide to go cash flow negative again to fund further growth.

Part 5: Inside Moz HQ

The papers want to know whose shirts you wear

So, who is behind the wheel here?

We ended 2017 with roughly the same number of Mozzers as we began. It was a conscious choice to remain approximately headcount neutral in 2017; we only opened up new positions after ensuring rigorous conversations took place around the business need for the role. This discipline is hard to live under, but we like the results. We’re working smarter, and getting more rigorous in our decision-making.

Let me be clear: WE ARE HIRING! These are just 5 of our currently open positions:

See more at our Careers page!

Here’s where we need YOU: Moz is committed to bringing more women into tech. There is a dire lack of diversity in the technology industry. This past year we added 6% more women to the company overall and 9% to engineering specifically. We must and will do better. We need more women in engineering and leadership roles here. Check out those jobs above and join the team!

Stats on women in tech roles at Moz

Moz partners with some fantastic organizations focused on getting more women into the tech pipeline. Ada Academy, Year Up, Ignite Worldwide, and Techbridge all encourage women and girls to pursue STEM careers early in their lives. Our newest partner, Unloop, enables people who have been in prison to develop skills and succeed in careers in tech. It is our responsibility to ensure that all people have opportunity and access to participate in STEM fields.

Generosity comes in many forms. One way in which we support the generosity of Mozzers is to match charitable donations to 501c3 organizations by 150%.

Moz Charitable Donation Match: $65810 donated to charity. We have a generous 150% charity donation match program.

We also donated our space 35 times to various organizations in the community requesting to use the Mozplex as a venue for their meetups. Check our our event brochure and take a 360 tour of the Mozplex!

Mozzers also donate a ton of time to causes they are passionate about. We also offer a very discounted price for nonprofits that we’re happy many folks take advantage of. We’re passionate about communities and helping folks.

303 Coaching sessions in 2017

Moz partnered with Halo Partners to provide professional coaching to all employees. 54 Mozzers received coaching. 27 Mozzers used this benefit for the first time! I’m a huge believer in coaching and training. Beginner’s mind is how we grow and become the best versions of ourselves.

Through it all, we made sure to have some fun. Moz offers a Paid Paid Vacation benefit, reimbursing employees $3k per year in vacation costs. Yes, that’s right. You get your regular pay, plus another $3k a year to spend on your trip! It’s bonkers!

Paid, paid vacation: $456,728.40. Paid vacation isn't enough. We also pay for Mozzers' airfare, hotels, yours, and food while they vacation.

Mozzers visited 6 of the 7 continents last year!

We also had 7 Mozling babies last year. Luv those babies.

Part 6: Into the future

I think my spaceship knows which way to go

2017 was a strengthening year for Moz. We went through a lot of change and made some important investments. Mozzers are dynamic, helpful, smart, and hardworking. They have a service orientation and build for the long term. The investments we made in 2017 will bear fruit in the years ahead. And we’re poised to make some ambitious moves in the coming months.

While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, I believe we have higher mountains still to climb. We have had triumphs and tribulations, heartbreaks and happy dances. These many years later, the SEO industry is healthy, growing, and dynamic. Many organizations are still struggling with basic web presence, let alone thoughtful SEO strategy. Moz is still teensy-tiny compared to the opportunity. I believe the opportunity for SEO expertise is vast.

I want to close on a note of gratitude.

First, a bunch of folks helped pull together the metrics for our 2017 report, and I am deeply grateful for their help. This post is kind of a bear! Thank you Jess, Felicia, Christian, Kevin, Susan, Michael, Jeremy, and anyone else who pulled data and helped get this post off the ground!

Second, thank you to this community. It’s because of you that we are here. This community would be nothing if it wasn’t for your care, attention, and feedback. We will continue to work hard to make your work lives more enjoyable and successful. We want to be your favorite resource for doing great SEO. If we’re not there yet, trust that we will keep working to be. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Gratitude also to David Bowie for inspiring this post and so much more. We miss you. ❤

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MozCon 2018: Making the Case for the Conference (& All the Snacks!)

Posted by Danielle_Launders

You’ve got that conference looming on the horizon. You want to go – you’ve spent the past few years desperately following hashtags on Twitter, memorizing catchy quotes, zooming in on grainy snapshots of a deck, and furiously downloading anything and everything you can scour from Slideshare.

But there’s a problem: conferences cost money, and your boss won’t even approve a Keurig in the communal kitchen, much less a ticket to a three-day-long learning sesh complete with its own travel and lodging expenses.

What’s an education-hungry digital marketer to do?

How do you convince your boss to send you to the conference of your dreams?

First of all, you gather evidence to make your case.

There are a plethora of excellent reasons why attending conferences is good for your career (and your bottom line). In digital marketing, we exist in the ever-changing tech space, hurtling toward the future at breakneck speed and often missing the details of the scenery along the way.

A good SEO conference will keep you both on the edge of your seat and on the cutting-edge of what’s new and noteworthy in our industry, highlighting some of the most important and impactful things your work depends on.

A good SEO conference will flip a switch for you, will trigger that lightbulb moment that empowers you and levels you up as both a marketer and a critical thinker.

If that doesn’t paint a beautiful enough picture to convince the folks that hold the credit card, though, there are also some great statistics and resources available:

Specifically, we’re talking about MozCon

Yes, that MozCon!

Let’s just take a moment to address the elephant in the room here: you all know why we wrote this post. We want to see your smiling face in the audience at MozCon this July (the 9th–11th, if you were wondering). There are a few specific benefits worth mentioning:

  • Speakers and content: Our speakers bring their A-game each year. We work with them to bring the best content and latest trends to the stage to help set you up for a year of success.
  • Videos to share with your team: About a month or so after the conference, we’ll send you a link to professionally edited videos of every presentation at the conference. Your colleagues won’t get to partake in the morning Top Pot doughnuts or Starbucks coffee, but they will get a chance to learn everything you did, for free.
  • Great food onsite: We understand that conference food isn’t typically worth mentioning, but at MozCon you can expect snacks from local Seattle vendors – in the past this includes Trophy cupcakes, KuKuRuZa popcorn, Starbucks’ Seattle Reserve cold brew, and did we mention bacon at breakfast? Let’s not forget the bacon.
  • Swag: Expect to go home with a one-of-a-kind Roger Mozbot, a super-soft t-shirt from American Apparel, and swag worth keeping. We’ve given away Roger Legos, Moleskine notebooks, phone chargers, and have even had vending machines with additional swag in case you didn’t get enough.
  • Networking: You work hard taking notes, learning new insights, and digesting all of that knowledge – that’s why we think you deserve a little fun in the evenings to chat with fellow attendees. Each night after the conference, we’ll offer a different networking event that adds to the value you’ll get from your day of education.
  • A supportive network after the fact: Our MozCon Facebook group is incredibly active, and it’s grown to have a life of its own – marketers ask one another SEO questions, post jobs, look for and offer advice and empathy, and more. It’s a great place to find TAGFEE support and camaraderie long after the conference itself has ended.
  • Discounts for subscribers and groups: Moz Pro subscribers get a whopping $500 off their ticket cost (even if you’re on a free 30-day trial!) and there are discounts for groups as well, so make sure to take advantage of savings where you can!
  • Ticket cost: At MozCon our goal is to break even, which means we invest all of your ticket price back into you. Check out the full breakdown below:

Can you tell we’re serious about the snacks?

You can check out videos from years past to get a taste for the caliber of our speakers. We’ll also be putting out a call for community speaker pitches in April, so if you’ve been thinking about breaking into the speaking circuit, it could be an amazing opportunity – keep an eye on the blog for your chance to submit a pitch.

If you’ve ever seriously considered attending an SEO conference like MozCon, now’s the time to do it. You’ll save actual hundreds of dollars by grabbing subscriber or group pricing while you can (think of all the Keurigs you could get for that communal kitchen!), and you’ll be bound for an unforgettable experience that lives and grows with you beyond just the three days you spend in Seattle.

Grab your ticket to MozCon!

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!

Free Local SEO Tools That Belong in Your Kit

Posted by MiriamEllis

What a lot can change in just a few years! When I wrote the original version of this post in January 2014, the local SEO industry didn’t have quite the wealth of paid tools that now exists, and many of the freebies on my previous list have been sunsetted. Definitely time for a complete refresh of the most useful free tools, widgets, and resources I know of to make marketing local businesses easier and better.

While all of the tools below are free, note that some will require you to sign up for access. Others are limited, no-cost, or trial versions that let you get a good sense of what they provide, enabling you to consider whether it might be worth it to buy into paid access. One thing you may notice: my new list of local SEO tools offers increased support for organic SEO tasks, reflective of our industry’s growing understanding of how closely linked organic and local SEO have become.

Now, let’s open this toolkit and get 2018 off to a great start!

For Research

US Census Bureau Tool Set

Looking to better understand a target community for marketing purposes? You’ll find 20+ useful resources from the US Census Bureau, including population statistics, economic data, mapping and geocoding widgets, income and language information, and much more.

Client Onboarding Questionnaire & Phone Script

Onboarding a new client? Reduce repetitious follow-ups by asking all of the right questions the first time around with this thorough questionnaire and easy-to-follow phone call script from Moz. Includes helpful tips for why you are asking each question. As local SEO veterans will tell you, a missed question can lead to unhappy (and costly) surprises down the marketing road. Be sure you have the total picture of an incoming client in clear view before you begin strategizing.

Location Information Spreadsheet

Vital when marketing multi-location businesses, this free Moz spreadsheet will ensure that you’ve got all the info at your fingertips about each locale of a company.

*Pro tip: When working with large enterprises, be certain that the data you’re inputting in this spreadsheet has been approved by all relevant departments. It’s really no fun to find out six months into a marketing campaign that there’s internal disagreement about company NAP or other features.

Local Competitive Audit Spreadsheet

Now we’re really getting down to brass tacks. When you need to look for answers to the perennial client question, “Why is that guy outranking me?”, this free Moz spreadsheet will help you document key competitive data. The end result of filling out the sheet will be two columns of stats you can compare and contrast in your quest to discover competitors’ ranking strengths and weaknesses. Need more guidance? Read my blog post in which I put this audit spreadsheet into action for two San Francisco Bay Area Chinese restaurants.

Manual GeoLocation Chrome Extension

Watch Darren Shaw demo using this tool to show how a local pack changes when a user virtually crosses a street and you’ll quickly understand how useful this Chrome extension will be in approximating the impacts of user-to-business proximity. Works well on desktop devices.

Our industry still hasn’t fully recovered from Google removing the Local Search filter from its engine in 2015, and I still live in hope that they will bring it back one day, but in the meantime, this extension gives us a good sense of how searcher location affects search results. In fact, it may even be a superior solution.

The MozBar SEO Toolbar

Local businesses in competitive markets must master traditional SEO, and the free MozBar provides a wonderful introduction to the metrics you need to look at in analyzing the organic strengths and weaknesses of clients and competitors. On-page elements, link metrics, markup, HTTP status, optimization opportunities – get the data you need at a glance with the MozBar.

Google Advanced Search Operators

Not a tool, per se, but the best tutorial I have ever seen on using Google advanced search operators to deepen your research. Dr. Pete breaks this down into 67 steps that will enable you to use these search refinements for content and title research, checking for plagiarism, technical SEO audits, and competitive intelligence. Be totally wizardly and impress your clients and teammates, simply by knowing how to format searches in smart ways.

Google Search Console

Apologies if it already seems like a no-brainer to you that you should be signed up for Google’s console that gives you analytics, alerts you to serious errors, and so much more, but local SEO is just now crossing the threshold of understanding how deeply connected it is to organic search. When playing in Google’s backyard, GSC is a must-have for businesses of every type.

BrightLocal’s Search Results Checker

This popular tool does an excellent job of replicating local search results at a city or zip code level. In some cases, it’s best to search by city (for example, when there are multiple towns covered by a single zip code), but other times, it’s better search by zip code (as in the case of a large city with multiple zip codes). The tool doesn’t have the capability to recreate user-level results, so always remember that the proximity of a given user to a business may create quite different results than what you’ll see searching at a city or zip code level. I consider this a great tool to suss out the lay of the land in a community, identifying top competitors.

Offline Conversion Tracker Form

Give this handy Whitespark form to anyone who answers your phone so that they can document the answer to the important question, “How did you hear about us?” Submitted information is saved to Whitespark’s database and tracked in Google Analytics for your future reference and analysis. For local businesses, knowledge of offline factors can be priceless. This form provides a simple point of entry into amassing real-world data.

For Content

Answer the Public

One of the best-loved keyword research tools in the digital marketing world, Answer the Public lets you enter a keyword phrase and generate a large number of questions/topics related to your search. One of the most awesome facets of this tool is that it has a .CSV download feature – perfect for instantly generating large lists of keywords that you can input into something like Moz Keyword Explorer to begin the sorting process that turns up the most powerful keywords for your content dev and on-page optimization.


Another great content inspiration tool, Buzzsumo shows you lets you enter a keyword, topic or domain name, and then shows you which pieces are getting the most social shares. For example, a search for shows that a highly shared piece of content at the time of my search is about an asparagus and broccoli soup. You can also sort by content type (articles, videos, infographics, etc.). Use of Buzzsumo can help you generate topics that might be popular if covered on your website.

OSHA Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) System Search

Another interesting resource for brainstorming a wide pool of potential keywords for content dev consideration, OSHA’s SIC search returns big, comprehensive lists. Just look up your industry’s SIC code, and then enter it along with a keyword/category to get your list.

USPS Look Up a ZIP Code Widget

Working with service area businesses (SABs)? Note the second tab in the menu of this widget: Cities by zip code. When you know the zip code of a business you’re marketing you can enter it into this simple tool to get a list of every city in that zip. Now, let’s not take a wrong step here: don’t publish large blocks of zips or city names on any website, but do use this widget to be sure you know of all the communities for which an SAB might strategize content, link building, brand building, real-world relationship building, social media marketing, and PPC.

Schema/JSON-LD Generators

Rather than list a single tool here, I’m going to take the advice of my friend, schema expert David Deering, who has taught me that no one tool is perfect. In David’s opinion, there isn’t currently a schema/JSON-LD generator that does it all, which is why he continues to build this type of markup manually. That being said, if you’re new to Schema, these generators will get you started:

For Citations

Moz Check Listing

I can say without bias that I know of no free tool that does a better job of giving you a lightning-fast overview of the health of a local business’ listings. On the phone with a new prospect? Just plug in the name and zip and see how complete and accurate the company’s citations are on the sources that matter most, including the major local business data aggregators (Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup, Localeze) plus key platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, YP, and more.

Literally at a glance, you can tell if inconsistencies and duplicate listings are holding a business back. It can also be used for competitive analysis, defining whether a clean or messy citation set is impacting competitors. The value of the free Check Listing tool becomes most fully realized by signing up for the paid Moz Local product, which automates aggregator-level listing management even at an enterprise level with hundreds or thousands of listings, and offers options for review monitoring, ranking analysis, and more.

Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder (free version)

The free version of this cool tool from our friends at Whitespark will give you a sense of how the paid version can help you discover additional places, beyond the basics, where you might want to get listed. It also analyzes your competitors’ citations.

For Reviews

The Hoth’s Online Business Review Checker Tool

You’ll have to sign up, but this free tool gives you an overview report of a local business’ reviews on a variety of platforms. This is a smart thing to do for every incoming client, to gauge reputation strengths and weaknesses. The state of a company’s reviews indicates whether it has an offline problem that needs to be corrected at a real-world structural level, or if its core challenge is a lack of strategy for simply earning a competitive number of positive reviews.

Free Review Monitoring

Need to know when a new review comes in on a major or industry-specific review site? Signing up for this free tool will send you email alerts so that you can respond quickly. Watch the little video and pay attention to its statement that the majority of unhappy customers will consider visiting a business again if it quickly resolves a complaint. Good to know!

Review Handout Generator

Another freebie from Whitespark in partnership with Phil Rozek, this very simple resource lets you enter some business info and generate a printable handout your public-facing staff can give to customers. Active review management has become a must in even moderately competitive geo-industries. How nice to have a physical asset to offer your customers to get more of those reviews rolling in!

Google Review Link Generator

Google’s local product has gone through so many iterations that finding a link to point consumers to when requesting a GMB review has been foolishly difficult at times. Whitespark helps out again, at least for brick-and-mortar businesses, with this easy widget that lets you enter your business info and generate a shareable link. Unfortunately, SABs or home-based businesses with hidden addresses can’t use this tool, but for other business models, this widget works really well.

For social


Whenever your business gets mentioned on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, Reddit, and a variety of other platforms, Notify uses Slack or HipChat to send you an alert. By being aware of important conversations taking place about your brand, and participating in them, your business can achieve an excellent status of responsiveness. Social media has become part of the customer service environment, so a tool like this comes in very handy.


A free trial is available for this app which acts as serious analytics for Twitter. If Twitter is a favorite platform in your industry, definitely give this resource a spin. Understand the characteristics of your followers, find and connect with influencers, and use data to improve your outreach.

Character Count Online

I use this ultra-basic tool all of the time for three specific tasks. Some social platforms either have character limits and don’t always have counters, or (like Google Posts) truncate your social messaging so that only a limited snippet appear at the highest interface. Just plug in your text and see the character count.

And, of course, you’ll want a character counter to be sure your on-page title tags and meta descriptions read right in the SERPs.

My third use for this counter relates to content marketing. Most publications have character count parameters for the pieces they will accept. Here on the Moz Blog, we’re not into length limits, because we believe thorough coverage is the right coverage of important topics. But, when I’m invited to blog elsewhere, I have to rein myself in and be sure I haven’t galloped past that 800-character limit. If you’ve found that to be a problem, too, a character counter can keep you on-track as you write. Whoa, horsie!

So, what did I miss?

If you’re saying to yourself right now, “I can’t believe this totally awesome free local SEO tool I use every week isn’t included,” please share it with our community in the comments. One thing I know I’d love to find a free solution for would be a tool that does review sentiment analysis. Paid solutions exist for this, but I’ve yet to encounter a freebie.

My criteria for a great tool is that it makes work better, stronger, faster… or is that the intro to The Six Million Dollar Man? Well, Steve Austin had some amazing capabilities (and a cool 70s jogging suit, to boot!), and I’m hoping you’ll feel kitted up for success, too, with this list of free tools in the year ahead.

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Followerwonk Is Moving On to a New, Loving Home

Posted by adamf

We have exciting news to share with you about our Twitter analytics tool, Followerwonk! For a while now we’ve been looking for a new home for the tool. We’re very pleased to announce that Marc Mims, one of the tool’s original developers, formed a company to acquire it and will continue to operate the popular service under the Followerwonk brand.

A little history

In August 2016, we announced our intention to sell Followerwonk. It’s a useful and powerful application, but since acquiring it in 2012, we discovered that the overlap between users of Followerwonk and users of our core SEO products was smaller than we anticipated. To address that problem, in 2015 we offered it as a separate subscription – part of a larger strategy to extend our services beyond SEO. Last year we made some hard choices, ultimately deciding to refocus our efforts on our SEO core. It was then that we decided to seek a better home for our Twitter analytics tool.

Marc and Followerwonk go way back. As an engineer on the team that originally built and launched the tool, he came on board at Moz in 2012 when Moz first acquired it. He spent his first year on the Moz engineering team working on Followerwonk, and then a year working on Open Site Explorer, after which he returned to Followerwonk to help us relaunch it as a standalone product. In August 2016 we put Followerwonk in a holding pattern while we sought a buyer; during this time, Marc stayed on as a contractor to keep it healthy and operational for existing customers.

When Marc made an offer to acquire the product, it was like everything had come full circle; we were delighted to know Followerwonk will continue in good hands. There are only a few buyers in the world who could bring Marc’s knowledge and passion for Followerwonk to the table.

In the months since August 2016, Marc spent his time making improvements and optimizations to the backend. He has quietly deployed 52 releases of Followerwonk in that time, improving performance and stability. He’s excited to be able to start adding new features now, too.

What does this mean for existing customers?

It means you can expect continued service from the product you love and the addition of new features and capabilities in the future. Moz will continue to host Followerwonk during a transition period while Marc prepares it to run on its own infrastructure. During that time, you can continue to use Followerwonk as you always have.

As Marc and Moz work together to transfer the service, Followerwonk customers should not notice much change; most of the work will be happening behind the scenes. Accounts will be transferred securely, and we will communicate directly with customers if any actions are required.

If you have legacy access to Followerwonk as part of your Moz Pro subscription from before its 2015 relaunch as a separate service, you will continue to have uninterrupted access to the tool through the transition period. Near the end of that period, Marc and Moz will jointly make a special offer allowing you to subscribe to Followerwonk and continue using it after the tool has left Moz’s infrastructure.

The transition period should take between three and six months. During that time, you can access the tool through your Moz login at Afterwards, you’ll find it at

We’ll be sure to reach out to all customers and those with legacy access to provide more details well before any changes occur.

Final thoughts

In our hearts and minds, this is absolutely the best possible outcome for Followerwonk. It continues in the hands of a strong engineer, a beloved and respected member of the Moz team, an incredibly TAGFEE person, and someone who knows Followerwonk inside and out. Please join us in wishing Marc great success as he builds a team and a business around Followerwonk, giving it the love and attention it richly deserves.

If you’ve got any questions, would like a few more details, or simply wish to congratulate Marc in person, head over to the Q&A post he authored here and join the conversation!

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Tangential Content Earns More Links and Social Shares in Boring Industries [New Research]

Posted by kerryjones

Many companies still don’t see the benefit of creating content that isn’t directly about their products or brand. But unless you have a universally interesting brand, you’ll be hard-pressed to attract much of an audience if all you do is publish brand-centric content.

Content marketing is meant to solve this dilemma. By offering genuinely useful content to your target customers, rather than selling to them, you earn their attention and over time gain their trust.

And yet, I find myself explaining the value of non-branded content all too often. I frequently hear grumblings from fellow marketers that clients and bosses refuse to stray from sales-focused content. I see companies publishing what are essentially advertorials and calling it content marketing.

In addition to turning off customers, branded content can be extremely challenging for building links or earning PR mentions. If you’ve ever done outreach for branded content, you’ve probably gotten a lot of pushback from the editors and writers you’ve pitched. Why? Most publishers bristle at content that feels like a brand endorsement pretending not to be a brand endorsement (and expect you to pay big bucks for a sponsored content or native advertising spot).

Fortunately, there’s a type of content that can earn your target customers’ attention, build high-quality links, and increase brand awareness…

Tangential content: The cure for a boring niche

At Fractl, we refer to content on a topic that’s related to (but not directly about) the brand that created it as “tangential content.”

Some hypothetical examples of tangential content would be:

  • A pool installation company creating content about summer safety tips and barbeque recipes.
  • A luggage retailer publishing country-specific travel guides.
  • An auto insurance broker offering car maintenance advice.

While there’s a time for branded content further down the sales funnel, tangential content might be right for you if you want to:

  1. Reach a wide audience and gain top-of-funnel awareness. Not a lot of raving fans in your boring brand niche? Tangential topics can get you in front of the masses.
  2. Target a greater number of publishers during outreach to increase your link building and PR mention potential. Tangential topics work well for outreach because you can expand your pool of publishers (larger niches vs. a small niche with only a few dedicated sites).
  3. Create more emotional content that resonates with your audience. In an analysis of more than 300 client campaigns, we found the content that received more than 200 media mentions was more likely than low-performing campaigns to have a strong emotional hook. If your brand niche doesn’t naturally tug on the heartstrings, tangential content is one way to create an emotional reaction.
  4. Build a more diverse content library and not be limited to creating content around one topic. If you’ve maxed out on publishing content about your niche, broadening your content repertoire to tangential topics can reinvigorate your content strategy (and your motivation).

Comparison of tangential vs. on-brand content performance

In our experience at Fractl, tangential content has been highly effective for link building campaigns, especially in narrow client niches that lack broad appeal. While we’ve assumed this is true based on our observations, we now have the data to back up our assumption.

We recently categorized 835 Fractl client campaigns as either tangential or on-brand, then compared the average number of pickups (links and press mentions) and number of social shares for each group. Our hunch was right: The tangential campaigns earned 30% more media mentions and 77% more social shares on average than the brand-focused campaigns.

So what exactly does a tangential campaign look like? Below are some real examples of our client campaigns that illustrate how tangential topics can yield stellar results.

Most Hateful/Most Politically Correct Places

  • Client niche: Apartment listing site
  • Campaign topic: Which states and cities use the most prejudiced/racist language based on geo-tagged Twitter data
  • Results: 67,000+ social shares and 620 media pickups, including features on CNET, Slate, Business Insider, AOL, Yahoo, Mic, The Daily Beast, and Adweek

Why it worked

After a string of on-brand campaigns for this client yielded average results, we knew capitalizing on a hot-button, current issue would attract tons of attention. This topic still ties back into the client’s main objective of helping people find a home since the community and location of that home are important factors in one’s decisions. Check out the full case study of this campaign for more insights into why it was successful.

Most Instagrammed Locations

  • Client niche: Bus fare comparison and booking tool
  • Campaign topic: Points of interest where people post the most Instagram photos in North America
  • Results: 40,000+ social shares and more than 300 pickups, including TIME, NBC News, Business Insider, Today, Yahoo!, AOL, Fast Company, and The Daily Mail

Why it worked

Our client’s niche, bus travel, had a limited audience, so we chose a topic that was of interest to anyone who enjoys traveling, regardless of the mode of transportation they use to get there. By incorporating data from a popular social network and using an idea with a strong geographic focus, we could target a lot of different groups – the campaign appealed to travel enthusiasts, Instagram users, and regional and city news outlets (including TV stations). For more details about our thought process behind this idea, see the campaign case study.

Most Attractive NFL Players and Teams


Client niche: Sports apparel retailer

Campaign topic: Survey that rates the most attractive NFL players

Results: 45,000+ social shares and 247 media pickups, including CBS Sports, USA Today, Fox Sports, and

Why it worked

Since diehard fans want to show off that their favorite player is the best, even if it’s just in the looks department, we were confident this lighthearted campaign would pique fan interest. But fans weren’t the only ones hitting the share button – the campaign also grabbed the attention of the featured teams and players, with many sharing on their social media profiles, which helped drive exposure.

On-brand content works best in certain verticals

Tangential content isn’t always necessary for earning top-of-funnel awareness. So, how do you know if your brand-centric topics will garner lots of interest? A few things to consider:

  • Is your brand topic interesting or useful to the general population?
  • Are there multiple publishers that specifically cover your niche? Do these publishers have large readerships?
  • Are you already publishing on-brand content that is achieving your goals/expectations?

We’ve seen several industry verticals perform very well using branded content. When we broke down our campaign data by vertical, we found our top performing on-brand campaign topics were technology, drugs and alcohol, and marketing.

Some examples of our successful on-brand campaign topics include:

  • Growth of SaaS for a B2B software comparison website
  • Influencers on Instagram for an influencer marketplace
  • Global Drug Treatment Trends for an addiction recovery client
  • The Tech Job Network for a tech career website

Coming up with tangential content ideas

Once you free yourself from only brainstorming brand-centric ideas, you might find it easy to dream up tangential concepts. If you need a little help, here are a few tips to get you started:

Review your buyer personas.

In order to know which tangential topics to choose, you need to understand your target audience’s interests and where your niche intersects with those interests. The best way to find this information? Buyer personas. If you don’t already have detailed buyer personas built out, Mike King’s epic Moz post from a few years ago remains the bible on personas in my opinion.

Find topics your audience cares about with Facebook Audience Insights.

Using its arsenal of user data, this Facebook ads tool gives you a peek into the interests and lifestyles of your target audience. These insights can supplement and inform your buyer personas. See the incredibly actionable post How to Create Buyer Personas on a Budget Using Facebook Audience Insights for more help with leveraging this tool.

Consider how trending news topics are tangential to your brand.

Pay attention to themes that keep popping up in the news and how your brand relates back to these stories (this is how the most racist/bigoted states and cities campaign I mentioned earlier in this post came to be). Also anticipate seasonal or event-based topics that are tangential to your brand. For example, a tire manufacturer may want to create content on protecting your car from flooding and storm damage during hurricane season.

Test tangential concepts on social media.

Not sure if a tangential topic will go over well? Before moving forward with a big content initiative, test it out by sharing content related to the topic on your brand’s social media accounts. Does it get a good reaction? Pro tip: spend a little bit of money promoting these as sponsored posts to ensure they get in front of your followers.

Have you had success creating content outside of your brand niche? I’d love to hear about your tangential content examples and the results you achieved, please share in the comments!

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Create Your Buyer Persona in 5 Simple Steps

writing for personas

Do you know who your customers are?

More importantly, do you know what they want or need from you?

If you don’t, writing engaging email content for your audience will be a challenge. After all, it’s difficult to write content for someone you don’t know or understand.

That’s where buyer personas come in. A buyer persona is a fictional person who represents your ideal customer or a portion of your audience. Their interests, challenges and problems align with your audience’s.

With a persona, you can write more engaging email content that resolves your audience’s problems and speaks to their interests. On top of that, you can also use personas to improve your overall marketing!

Are you ready to create your own buyer persona? Read this post and get step-by-step guidance to build your very own persona.

Bonus resource: Complete your buyer persona as you read this post!

Download our free buyer persona worksheet.

Step 1: Research your target audience

The first step is to do a little research. Researching your audience will help you create a realistic persona, and possibly find interesting details about your customers you didn’t know before.

To get started, look at your current customer base. Who are your best customers and repeat purchasers? Are there any similarities between them?

By finding commonalities among your best customers, you can create a persona that’ll help you attract more great customers.

To gather information, try setting up a phone call or in-person interview with someone you love doing business with. This will allow you to ask follow-up questions based on their previous answers to get even more detailed information.

You can also research customers you’ve had a bad experience with to learn which kind of people aren’t the right fit for your product or service.

To quickly gather information from multiple people, you could create and send a survey email to your current subscribers.

The survey could ask questions like:

When do you open your emails?

What questions do you have about [Insert your industry]?

What kind of content would you like to receive from me?

What challenges do you have?

After a few years of using this research, conduct new research to refresh your buyer persona with updated information.

Step 2: Narrow down the most common details

Once you’ve completed your research, narrow down your results by finding the most common answers you received from customers and subscribers.

Then, weed through your research to determine the most important details that’ll affect how you communicate with your audience.

For example, if a majority of people share the same challenge, this will be an important detail to include in your persona.

Here is some of the information you should determine in this step:

  1. Demographics (age, occupation, etc.)
  2. Behaviors (skill level, interest in your product offering, how they use your product or service, what they read and watch, etc.)
  3. Challenges and interests

  4. Email preferences (how often they want to receive emails, when they open their emails, etc.)

Step 3: Create separate personas

Now that you’ve narrowed down the most common details about your customers, you should organize those details into separate personas.

To do this, identify people in your audience with the same challenges and goals and group them into their own category. These different categories will represent different personas.

For example, if you’re a fitness instructor, you may have clients who want to increase muscle and gain weight and others who want to lose weight. Since they have very different goals, you should create two separate personas for these clients.

If you find that you need to gather more information about a certain persona, go back and do more research to find the missing information.

Step 4: Give your personas names

The best way to write for and think about your buyer persona is to give them a name!

Assigning a name to your persona will remind you that you’re speaking to an actual person when you write emails. This can help you write more personalized content.

You can even take it one step further and find an image or photo to represent your buyer persona! Check out this example below:

Step 5: Start writing personalized emails

Now that you have a buyer persona (or personas!) with a name, face and details, you can start writing your emails and content with this persona in mind.

Your subscribers will engage with your emails more, because you can create more personal, relevant content for them. (And solve their problems!)

Not sure how to write effective emails for your new buyer persona? Download our free “What to Write in Your Emails” guide and get more than 45 fill-in-the-blank email copy templates and an email writing course.

what to write

The post Create Your Buyer Persona in 5 Simple Steps appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

‘Pack up and get out’: flooded Houston ravaged by more rain from Tropical Storm Harvey

Floodwaters reached the roof lines of single-story homes on Monday and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey poured rain on the Houston area for a fourth consecutive day after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues.

The nation’s fourth-largest city was still largely paralysed, and there was no relief in sight from the storm that spun into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, then parked itself over the Gulf Coast. With nearly 2 more feet of rain expected, authorities worried whether the worst was yet to come.

Texas officials said on Monday that six more people are feared to have died in the Houston area as a result of torrential rains unleashed by Harvey over the weekend.

Tricia Bentley, spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office in Harris County which includes the city of Houston, confirmed six deaths since Sunday that are potentially tied to Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey, which made landfall late on Friday as a category 4 hurricane and is now dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm, sent devastating floods pouring into Houston on Sunday. The rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground and overwhelmed rescuers who could not keep up with calls for help.

The director of the National Weather Service warned that the catastrophic flooding that has overwhelmed the fourth largest US city and other parts of Texas was set to worsen in the coming days.

Director Louis Uccellini said up to 51cm of rain could fall in the coming days, on top of the more than 76cm some places have already seen.

Pack up what you need and put it in your vehicle and when the sun comes up, get out

Jeff Lindner

The disaster unfolded on an epic scale in one of America’s most sprawling metropolitan centres. The Houston metro area covers about 10,000 square miles, an area slightly bigger than New Jersey. It’s crisscrossed by about 1,700 miles of channels, creeks and bayous that drain into the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles to the southeast from downtown.

The flooding was so widespread that the levels of city waterways have either equaled or surpassed those of Tropical Storm Allison from 2001, and no major highway has been spared some overflow.

US President Donald Trump on Monday declared an emergency in Louisiana as part of the southern state was being pelted with rain. The declaration allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts, as well as disaster relief funding

This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency has inflicted on the local population, the White House said.

President Donald Trump is set to visit Texas on Tuesday.

In a series of tweets, Trump said his administration was handling its responsibilities well.

Wow Now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood! We have an all-out effort going, and going well!

Later, he added: HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible. Thanks!

Sewage-laden floodwaters dumped on Texas by Hurricane Harvey bring a higher risk of disease, such as bacterial infections and mosquito-borne illnesses, and the fallout may linger for years, experts warn.

Immediate risks from floods include death by drowning, often people drown in their cars as they try to flee, electrocution, and hypothermia.

The long-term picture could be even more dire, as communities grapple with immense amounts of polluted water in the streets, in homes and businesses.

When floodwater washes over a heavily populated metro area like Houston, it is sure to be dirty and dangerous, experts say.

There is sewage, all kinds of pesticide, waste, herbicides and toxins that we don’t even know of are all going to wash in, Ranit Mishori, a family doctor and a professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. We are talking hundreds of different types of bacteria and viruses that could contaminate that water.

People can get sick simply by wading through dirty floodwater with a scratch or an open wound.

The biggest issue is the release of sewage and bacterial-related infections, said Howard Selinger, chair of family medicine at the Frank H Netter MD School at Quinnipiac University.

Dirty water can also infiltrate the drinking water system, raising the risk of contaminated water and with it, cholera.

Cholera causes acute diarrhoea, causing some three to five million cases of illness and more than 100,000 deaths each year worldwide.

The spread of cholera is one of the most significant dangers following any natural disaster, but especially flooding after a hurricane, said Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

With more than 450,000 people likely to seek help as a result of the floods, US emergency management officials said they were committed to getting federal resources to Texas as quickly as possible. More than 30,000 people were expected to be placed temporarily in shelters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.

Agency director Brock Long said 50 counties in Texas had been affected by the flooding and southwest Louisiana was expected to see major falls also. The rain has been blamed in at least two deaths.

Residents living near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs designed to prevent flooding in downtown Houston were warned on Sunday that a controlled release would cause additional flooding that could spill into homes. The dams were coming under massive pressure that could have caused failure without the release.

The idea is to prepare pack up what you need and put it in your vehicle and when the sun comes up, get out, said Jeff Lindner, from the Harris County Flood Control District. And you don’t have to go far, you just need to get out of this area.

The Army Corps of Engineers started the reservoir releases before 2am on Monday ahead of schedule because water levels were rising at a rate of more than 15cm per hour, a spokesman said.

County Judge Robert Herbert said National Weather Service officials were predicting that river waters could rise to 18 metres, 90cm above 2016 records and what Herbert called an 800-year flood level.

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Sunday’s incessant rain covered much of Houston in turbid, grey-green water and turned streets into rivers navigable only by boat. In a rescue effort that recalled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, helicopters landed near flooded freeways, airboats buzzed across submerged neighbourhoods and high-wheeled vehicles ploughed through waterlogged intersections.

Some people managed with kayaks or canoes or swam.

How Harvey went from little-noticed storm to a behemoth

Volunteers joined emergency teams to pull people from their homes or from the water, which was high enough in places to gush into second floors.

The flooding was so widespread that authorities had trouble pinpointing the worst areas. They urged people to get on top of their homes to avoid becoming trapped in attics and to wave sheets or towels to draw attention to their location.

Judging from federal disaster declarations, the storm has so far affected about a quarter of the Texas population, or 6.8 million people in 18 counties.

Being forced to evacuate, live in a makeshift shelter, and losing one’s possessions can all cause mental trauma that lasts long after the event, experts say.

Hospitals may fill up quickly, and people may have a hard time getting life saving medications and health care.

Over the weeks and months to come, soggy buildings will grow mould, which can be toxic and can cause a host of health problems for people exposed.

The biggest storms to hit the United States since 2000

As the water rose, the weather service offered an ominous forecast: Before the storm that arrived Friday as a Category 4 hurricane is gone, some parts of Houston and its suburbs could get as much as 1,300mm of rain. That would be the highest amount ever recorded in Texas.

Some areas have already received about half that amount. Since Thursday, South Houston recorded nearly 630mm, and the suburbs of Santa Fe and Dayton had 690mm.

The breadth and intensity of this rainfall is beyond anything experienced before, the National Weather Service said in a statement.

Elderly nursing homes were inundated with chest-high waters, while residents were forced to flee their homes with what belongings they could carry.

Tom Bartlett and Steven Craig pulled a rowing boat through floodwater for a mile to rescue Bartlett’s mother from her home in west Houston. It took them 45 minutes to reach the house, where Marie Bartlett, 88, was waiting in her upstairs bedroom.

When I was younger, I used to wish I had a daughter, but I have the best son in the world, she said. In my 40 years here, I’ve never seen the water this high.

At the city’s main convention centre, which was quickly opened as a shelter, Houston resident Gillis Leho said she woke up on Sunday to find her downstairs completely flooded. She tried to move some belongings upstairs, then grabbed her grandchildren.

When they told us the current was getting high, we had to bust a window to get out, Leho said.

William Cain sought shelter after water started coming inside his family’s flat and they lost power. I live in a lake where there was once dry land, he said.

The amount of water was so unprecedented that meteorologists had to update the colour charts on the weather service’s rainfall maps.

Rescuers were giving priority to life-and-death situations, leaving many affected families to fend for themselves. Several hospitals in the Houston area were evacuated due to the rising waters.

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US teenager buys unusual souvenir from street vendor in Mexico: a Bengal tiger cub

A California teenager who says he bought a Bengal tiger cub on the streets of Tijuana for US$300 was arrested when he tried to bring it into the United States in his car.

Luis Eudoro Valencia was charged with smuggling a Bengal tiger into the United States after Customs and Border Protection officials found the furry cub lying on the floor of the passenger side of his 2017 Chevy Camaro during an inspection around 1.30am Wednesday at the Otay Mesa border crossing.

CBP officers are often faced with unusual situations, said Pete Flores, director of field operations for Customs and Border Protection in San Diego.

The 18-year-old US citizen, who lives in Perris, said he had purchased the tiger for US$300 from someone who was walking a full-sized tiger on a leash in Tijuana, according to court documents. Several tigers have been seized this year by Mexican authorities in Tijuana.

US Fish & Wildlife Service officials took custody of the cub and handed the male cat over to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to care for it.

In January, Mexican authorities seized a Bengal tiger in Tijuana after a resident called police to report a man was walking a tiger on a dog leash through the neighbourhood. Officials said the four-month-old tiger had been living in a private home with children.

In April, Mexican officials seized a nine-month old Bengal tiger in Tijuana after the cub fell from a third-floor terrace onto a neighbour’s patio, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Despite the fall, the tiger appeared to be in good health.

Mexican circuses have been trying to get rid of exotic animals after a law went into effect in 2015 prohibiting such acts. Drug lords in Mexico have also been known to keep big cats as pets.

All species of tigers are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Importing an endangered species into the United States requires a permit from the US Fish & Wildlife Service and a declaration filed with the agency.

Prosecutors say Valencia lacked both.

Valencia could not be immediately reached for comment and the office of his court-appointed attorney, Robert Schlein, said he has not had a chance to speak to his client.

Valencia was released on a US$10,000 bond and ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing on September 5 in federal court in San Diego.

If convicted, Valencia could face up to 20 years in prison.

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Outside Trump rally, thousands of protesters swelter and shout before tear gas finally fills the streets

Thousands of anti-Donald Trump protesters gathered in Phoenix on Tuesday outside a campaign-style rally by the US President, engaging in shouting matches with his supporters over whether Trump harbours racist views.

The demonstrations remained peaceful until the end of the rally, when some protesters tried to break through barricades near an entrance to the convention centre where Trump was finishing his speech. Police, who said some protesters had thrown rocks and bottles at them, used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Hanging over the sweltering city all day was the shadow of Charlottesville, Virginia, and Trump’s recent assessment that both sides were to blame for the violence at a recent rally there by white nationalists and his comments that some very fine people were marching alongside neo-Nazis.

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In an effort to prevent the Phoenix demonstrations from turning violent, authorities called in extra officers and put the National Guard on the ready.

At rally, Trump defends his ‘perfect’ response to Virginia violence

Barricades were erected to separate Trump supporters and opponents outside the Phoenix Convention Centre, where afternoon temperatures climbed past 37 degrees and the growing crowd sought shelter under mesquite trees lining the sidewalks.

Build that wall! Build that wall! Trump supporters shouted as the barricades went up.

This is a country for everyone! yelled a counterprotester.

For Ubaldo Cruz, the arrival of Trump in Phoenix was an opportunity.

I don’t want to regret not speaking up, Cruz, who does accounting work, said as a beastly sun slipped behind downtown office buildings, moments before Trump strolled onto the stage at the convention center. It’s one thing to complain with friends I wanted to show up and speak up.

The anti-Trump protests in Phoenix consisted of several marches downtown that converged at the convention centre.

Nearly 4,000 people indicated on Facebook that they would attend an anti-Trump rally at the Herberger Theater Centre, less than a block from the convention centre. In a separate post, about 3,000 people said they planned to attend a White Supremacy Will Not Be Pardoned event downtown organised by the Puente Human Rights Movement, a local immigrant rights group. No official crowd totals were released by law enforcement officials.

Among those to arrive about four hours before the rally was Wolf Schneiter, 62, who held an Alt-right delete sign to protest the far-right movement that has backed Trump.

I used to protest in the ’70s and ’80s, but I took a little time off, he said. Now it’s time to get back in the game.

Schneiter said he was dismayed by Trump’s comments about both sides being to blame for the violence in Charlottesville.

What was that about? I’m beyond words that we’ve come to this, he said. You can’t even condemn bigots? Unreal.

Kim Aimes, 64, marched alongside members of the Puente Human Rights Movement.

Aimes, a social worker from Prescott, about 160km north of here, is a member of Indivisible Group, a national network resisting the Trump administration.

He wants to come west, so, well, we’ll bring it, Aimes said. We’ll bring the fight to him.

Aimes held a sign that read, Hate Never Made a Great Nation.

I just think this country is not moving ahead , she said. We’re talking about Nazis and the KKK. That’s not normal.

Not far from where Aimes stood, three members of the Southern Arizona Militia wore sunglasses and held AR-15 rifles.

Y’all Nazis?an anti-Trump protester asked the men.

They did not move.

Y’all Nazis? he asked again.

Just here to keep the peace, one of the men finally replied.

Members of the John Brown Gun Club, who oppose Trump, were also carrying weapons as a community defence team.

Ross Hubbard of Phoenix held his navy blue Make America great again hat as he fanned his face with a leaflet while waiting in line for the rally.

This is America right here a great day what a time to be alive, Hubbard, 45, said. This will be the greatest show on Earth tonight.

Sharon Miller, 62, travelled from her home a short drive east in Mesa to cheer on Trump.

I’m so tired of everyone acting like they’re doing something so brave by standing up to our president They’re not, she said.

Once Trump took the stage, many of the protesters began to head for their cars. Others stayed until the end and the clash with police that filled the air with tear gas. Some people in the crowd began fighting and throwing rocks and bottles at police, Phoenix police spokesman Sergeant Jonathan Howard said.

This is crazy, so crazy, said Mira Ramirez, a 20-year-old Phoenix resident who was there to protest the president. Everything was great until the end.

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