How to Make Simple Animations For Social Media

How to Make simple animations (1)Have you seen any blog posts recently with animation videos that play automatically?

Did you notice that Twitter recently started supporting animated GIFs?

These kinds of animations are a great way of capturing attention, and also an effective way of explaining something, simply, in a few seconds.

In this article, we are going to outline how you can make simple animations for social media.

What is an Animated GIF?

GIF is an acronymn for Graphics Interchange Format.  An animated GIF is basically a graphic image that moves!

When you create an animated GIF, a series of images is replayed back to back, so it looks like a video recording.

Of course, you can do a video recording instead, but if you want something simple then the animated GIF is simple to create and will generally be small in size.

How Do You Create an Animated GIF?

The program we use is called LICEcap. It is completely free and is available for both Mac and Windows.

The first thing you need to do is download LICEcap to your local machine.  If you’re on a Mac, you may need to set the permissions for this application in System Preferences (security and privacy -> general -> allow apps downloaded from -> allow LICEcap).

When you open up LICEcap, you’ll probably be confused because it opens up a frame with nothing in it! This makes it looks like the software wasn’t installed correctly, but don’t be fooled: this is the window that you use to specify what you want to record.

You can see, in the example below, that I’ve put an orange box around the LICEcap window.  It’s transparent so that you can see the area you want to record (in this case Hootsuite) within the application box.

 

Animiated gif

You highlight the area of the screen you want to record

 

You can change the size of this box to cover the area you want to record.

When you are ready to record, hit the record button in the bottom right-hand corner.  Next, you will be asked to pick a file name and then you’re ready.

 

Hootsuite animated recording

These are the configuration settings

 

The configuration settings are as follows:

  • Title frame –  Before the recording is shown, you can display a title explaining the GIF.  You can select the length of time the title should be on the screen for
  • Title – You can display text within your title frame or leave it blank
  • Elapsed time – Enable this if you want to display in the recording how much time has elapsed
  • Mouse button press – do you want to record the pressing of the mouse button?
  • GIF repeat count (0=infinite) – when you arrive on the post, the GIF will keep replaying. If you want it to stop after a certain number of times, you can specify that number here
  • Control+Alt+P – To pause and restart the recording.

 

 

Scheduling in Hootsuite

An animated GIF on how to schedule content in Hootsuite

How to Add other Effects to Animated GIFs

LICEcap does what it does very well, but it is not great for adding effects. If you want something basic that you’ll have up and running quickly, then LICEcap is probably the most suitable tool for you.  But if you want to add other effects, you can use a tool such as Ezgif. This provides you with functionality such as the following:

  • Resize your GIF - You may need to do this at times.  For example, WordPress doesn’t automatically resize your GIF, so will display it at the size it was recorded at (or resized to)
  • Crop – If you want to cut bits off around the edges
  • Optimize – This will attempt to reduce the file size
  • Effects – You can add various effects, for example changing it to sepia, or even displaying it upside down!
  • Speed – You can speed it up or slow it down
  • Split – This splits up the GIF into single frames so you can edit each one individually
  • Text – You can add text to the top, middle or bottom of the GIF.

 

Which Social Media Platforms Can you Embed Animated GIFs On?

You can embed them on your website and on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.  They are currently not supported on channels such as Facebook or Instagram.

In January 2014, Twitter started to support animated GIFs so, if you attach a GIF to a tweet, it gets played when someone clicks on the play button within the image.

 

 

When to use animated GIFs

If you want to explain something in a video that only takes a few seconds, or if you want to capture something short that is not worth doing any editing for, animated GIFs can be ideal.  Having the GIF play automatically on social media channels does catch the eye, so this alone is worth trying out.  People generally don’t want a really long animated GIF playing in a blog post, but a short, snappy one works.

Summary

Animated GIFs are just another way of displaying content within social media that attracts attention.  It’s not suitable for every occasion but for brief, eye-catching videos they can be very useful.

When you share your blog post on the social media sites that support it, you can also post the animated GIF. This will attract attention on Twitter and encourage people back to your blog post.

Would you use animated GIFs?   Do you find them annoying or useful?

 

Clapper image by Shutterstock

The post How to Make Simple Animations For Social Media appeared first on RazorSocial and was written by Ian Cleary

Announcing the All-New Beginner’s Guide to Link Building

Posted by Trevor-Klein

It is my great pleasure to announce the release of Moz’s third guide for marketers, written by the inimitable  Paddy Moogan of Distilled:

The Beginner's Guide to Link Building

We could tell you all about how high-quality, authoritative links pointing to your site benefit your standing in the SERPs, but instead we’ll just copy the words straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth:

“Backlinks, even though there’s some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really, really big win in terms of quality for search results.”
— Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, 
2/19/14

Link building is one area of SEO that has changed significantly over the last several years;  some tactics that were once effective are now easily identifiable and penalized by Google. At the same time, earning links remains vital to success in search marketing: Link authority features showed the strongest correlation with higher rankings in our 2013 ranking factors survey. For that reason, it has never been more important for marketers to truly earn their links, and this guide will have you building effective campaigns in no time.


What you’ll learn


1. What is Link Building, and Why Is It Important?

This is where it all begins. If you’re brand new to link building and aren’t sure whether or not it’s a good tactic to include in your marketing repertoire, give this chapter a look. Even the more seasoned link earners among us could use a refresher from time to time, and here we cover everything from what links mean to search engines to the various ways they can help your business’s bottom line.


2. Types of Links (Both Good and Bad)

Before you dive into building links of your own, it’s important to understand the three main types of links and why you should really only be thinking about two of them. That’s what this short and sweet chapter is all about.


3. How to Start a Link Building Campaign

Okay, enough with the theory; it’s time for the nitty-gritty. This chapter takes a deep dive into every step of a link building campaign, offering examples and templates you can use to build your own foundation. 


4. Link Building Tactics

Whether through ego bait or guest blogging (yes, that’s  still a viable tactic!), there are several approaches you can take to building a strong link profile. This chapter takes a detailed run through the tactics you’re most likely to employ.


5. Link Building Metrics

Now that the links are rolling in, how do you prove to ourselves and our clients that our work is paying off? The metrics outlined in this chapter, along with the tools recommended to measure them, offer a number of options for your reports.


6. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Link Building

If we’re preaching to the choir with this chapter, then we’re thrilled, because spammy links can lead to severe penalties. Google has gotten incredibly good at picking out and penalizing spammy link building techniques, and if this chapter isn’t enough to make you put your white hat on, nothing is.


7. Advanced Link Building Tips and Tricks

Mastered the rest of what the guide has to offer? Earning links faster than  John Paulson earns cash? Here are a few tips to take your link building to the next level. Caution: You may or may not find yourself throwing fireballs after mastering these techniques.


The PDF

When we released the Beginner’s Guide to Social Media, there was an instant demand for a downloadable PDF version. This time, it’s ready from the get-go (big thanks to David O’Hara!).

Click here to download the PDF.

Thanks

We simply can’t thank Paddy Moogan enough for writing this guide. His expertise and wisdom made the project possible. Thanks as well to Ashley Tate for wrangling the early stages of the project, Cyrus Shepard for his expert review and a few key additions, Derric Wise and David O’Hara for bringing it to life with their art, and Andrew Palmer for seamlessly translating everything onto the web.

Now, go forth and earn those links!

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!

Drive #SEO through audience engagement: #B3Seminar tickets now on sale!

You can now book your place at Branded3’s second seminar series of the year, titled Driving SEO Through Audience Engagement.

Taking place in Leeds on Wednesday 24th September and London on Thursday 16th October, these half-day seminars will cover all of the advice that marketers need to achieve a site that genuinely deserves to rank.

Be sure to book you and your team’s tickets before 1st September for a 25% early-bird discount price of just £75+VAT.

Leeds: Wednesday 24th September

London: Thursday 16th October

Previous attendees to Branded3’s sell-out seminars have been senior marketers from the likes of Debenhams, Harrods and Morphy Richards, to name just a few.

From design techniques and development guidance to content strategy tips and search strategy advice; at this seminar, marketers will learn everything they need to know to have a great website and excellent audience engagement.

Speakers include Tim Grice – who recently spoke at the Figaro Digital Marketing Conference – Patrick Altoft, and our Head of Digital Steve Shaw who will be presenting jointly with Sitecore.

Take a look at the event page here for more details on what to expect on the day, best of all – the seminars take place in the afternoon, so you don’t need to take a full day out of the office! Get in touch with us at seminars@branded3.com if you’ve got any questions about the events.

How to Build Your Own Free Amazon Organic Search Rank Tracker

Posted by n8ngrimm

Do you want a free tool that tracks your organic search rankings in Amazon? Yes? You’re in luck.

I am going to show you how to build your own organic search rank tracking tool using Kimono Labs and Excel.

This is a follow-up to  my last post about how to rank well in Amazon, which covered the basic inputs to Amazon’s ranking algorithm. It received a lot of comments about my rank-tracking prototype in Google Docs; the Moz community is overflowing with smart people who immediately saw the need for a tool to track their progress. As luck would have it, something in Google Sheets broke the day after I published, so I had to replicate the rank tracking tool in Excel using the SEOTools for Excel plugin. The Excel tool is a low-setup way to record your progress, but if you want to track more than a few terms, it is very laborious. I’ve since built a more (but not completely) automated, scalable way to track rankings using Kimono Labs to scrape the data and Excel to run the reports.

(Shout out to Benjamin Spiegel for turning me on to Kimono Labs through an excellent Moz post.)

Pros and cons of rank tracking

The death of Google rank tracking has been widely reported, so I feel compelled to review why Amazon rank tracking is both useful and a terrible KPI.

Amazon rank tracking is great because…

  • You get feedback on your content optimization. How else are you going to determine if your content changes actually produce a positive effect?
  • It can provide a possible explanation for increases in listing traffic and sales. Amazon doesn’t provide traffic source data so you’re often left guessing about the source of changes.

Amazon rank tracking is a terrible KPI because…

  • You have no way of assigning a monetary value to a rank. Amazon does not report on search query volume, you don’t know how well your users convert for each keyword, you don’t know the click-through-rate at each position, and you don’t know what percentage of users use organic search vs. other methods of finding your product.
  • Many factors besides rankings will drive your success on Amazon. Inventory outages, winning the Buy Box, and a good seller rating will impact sales drastically and directly. You can even assign revenue and profit numbers to some of those attributes.

So use rankings as a leading indicator of traffic and sales improvements and to see if your changes are making a difference.

Overview

To build our rank tracking tool, we’re going to

Build the scraper

Extract structured data from an Amazon search

Kimono Labs has some great documentation on using their tools. If, at any point, you get lost or want to do something slightly different from my scraper, you can find their documentation here. I’m going to show you the fastest way to copy my existing scraper so you can get up and running as quickly as possible.

After you create an account with Kimono Labs and install their bookmarklet or Chrome extension, the first thing you need to build a scraper is a URL to start scraping. I’m using this search in Amazon as my start URL: http://www.amazon.com/s?field-keywords=juicer. It’s a basic keyword search for the word “juicer.”

Click on the Kimonify bookmarklet, then click on the data model view.

Then click on Advanced

We’re going to make two properties.

To make things faster, you can copy the Xpath I use to identify the listing title and the ASIN (Amazon’s unique product identifier) from here:

Listing: div > div > div > h3 > a
ASIN: div > div.prod.celwidget

Next we’ll select which attributes to scrape from the elements we identified with the XPath. For the Listing property’s attributes, we’ll select the Text Content and href then click Apply.

For the ASIN attribute, we’ll select id and name. Deselect the other attributes that are selected by default, then click Apply.

So long as Amazon hasn’t changed the number of results they display by the time you are reading this, the two yellow circles at the top of the toolbar will say 15. That means that for each property defined, Kimono Labs has identified 15 different instances on the page. Does your screen look like this? If so, click Save.

Give your scraper a fancy name, tag it if you want, and decide how often you want it to run. I set mine to run daily. Kimono Labs will store a new version of the data every time it runs so if you don’t record it one day, the older data will still be there. I could have it scrape hourly but then it’s more laborious to go back through the data and find the version I want to save.

Click on the link to view your scraper. To verify that the data is gathering correctly, click on the Preview Results tab and select the CSV endpoint. You should see the title in the Listing.text field, a link to the listing in Listing.href, the ASIN in ASIN.name, and the rank in ASIN.id.

Finally, to make sure that Kimono Labs is gathering and saving data correctly, go to the API Detail tab and switch Always Save to On.

Then go to Pagination/Crawling and make sure crawling is turned on.

Congratulations! You just made a scraper that will record the ranking of every product for the keyword “juicer” every single day!

Which types of searches do you want to monitor?

There are many types of searches in Amazon. You can search for a keyword, brand, category, and any combinations of those. I’ll explain the URL parameters used to generate the searches so users can track whichever ranking is most important to your business. You will use these parameters to construct your list of URLs to crawl in Kimono Labs.

To start with, this URL can be used as a base for all Amazon searches:  http://www.amazon.com/s. We will add the parameter name-value pairs to the end to construct our search.

Name Example Value Description
field-keywords Juicer Add any keyword that you want to track
field-brandtextbin Breville Add any brand name. It must exactly match the brand name listed for the product in Amazon.
node 284507 Amazon’s ID number for a category. You can look through this list of Amazon’s top-level category nodes, download the most relevant Browse Tree Guide for every node, or simply navigate to the category and find it in the URL.
page 2 If you want to scrape beyond the first page, you’ll need to list a new URL for every page you want to scrape.

As an example, here’s the search for the keyword Juicer, with a brand name of Breville, in the Food & Kitchen category, page 2.

http://www.amazon.com/s?field-keywords=juicer&field-brandtextbin=breville&node=284507&page=2.

Here are a few notes that will be helpful (even critical) as you construct your searches.

  • Place a question mark (?) before your first parameter
  • Separate subsequent parameters with an ampersand (&)
  • You cannot search for a brand by itself; it can only be used in conjunction with a keyword or a node. I don’t know why.

Once you create every search URL, add them to the “List URLs to Crawl” field in Kimono Labs on the Pagination/Crawling tab.

Transform and store the data in Excel

Now that we’re scraping and storing rankings data for your searches every day, we want to display the data in a useful format. You could talk to a developer to hook into your Kimono Labs API, or you can download the data as a CSV and store it in Excel.

I’ll use this Excel template to transform my data into a more readable format, store the data, and create reports.

Transform

First, download the data from your Kimono Labs endpoint or results preview.

Paste the data into cell A2 of the Excel file. If the data ends up filling only the first column, go to Data >> Text to Columns. Select Delimited, click Next, select Comma, and click Finish. Your data should end up looking like this.

I use the table on the right to transform the data in a few key ways. I’ll explain each.

ASIN: I don’t transform this data; I just copy it as is. If it shows a number instead of an alphanumeric string, that’s an ISBN. It’s probably a book, movie, or cd that’s ranking

Title: Again, I’m not transforming the title, just copying it over.

Keyword: The keyword is included in the Listing.href on the left as part of the URL. I made a really long formula to extract just the keyword and replace plus symbols with spaces.

Date: This uses Excel’s TODAY() function which simply returns the current days date. If you’re adding data that is from a previous day, replace this date with whichever date is correct.

Rank: I remove the “result_” from the beginning of the ASIN.id field on the left and add one since the rankings start at zero.

Store historical data

If you continue adding data day after day, you can begin to see a change in rankings; copy the data from the table on the right (not the headers).

Then go to the Historical sheet and paste values at the bottom of the table. You just want to paste values, not formulas:

The table should automatically expand to include the new data. If not, click on the corner of the table and drag it down to include the new data. Next, click on the Data tab in the ribbon, then click Refresh All; the pivot tables in the Table and Graph sheets will now include the new data.

Build some useful reports with pivot tables and charts

In the Excel Template, I added a Pivot Table and Pivot Chart that you can use to report on the Data. The Historical data sheet has six days of rankings data. You may want to skip this section and just watch Annie Cushing’s videos on creating pivot charts and pivot tables. Once you are comfortable with pivot charts and tables, you can look at the data however you want.

Here are a few useful rankings charts and tables I use to look at rankings data. I’ve included the visualization as well as my settings in the screenshot.

All ranked keywords for a product over time

This chart displays all the keyword rankings for one product over time. I use the ASIN to filter the chart instead of the title, because the title for a listing can change over time but the ASIN won’t. This product ranks for both of our keywords and has moved around slightly throughout the six days we’ve tracked (there are no rankings on 7/31 and 8/1 for “masticating juicer” because I was not scraping data for this keyword on those days).

Two competing products for one keyword

This chart compares two products for one keyword. If you are monitoring a key competitor or have multiple products for your brand, this is a useful view. I used the filters to select the keyword “juicer” and the two products.

Rank by day

To quickly pick out which products improved or lost ranking over a time period, I use a table. In the row labels I group each rank by keyword then ASIN. I add Title below ASIN so I can recognize which product is moving up or down.

To the right of the table, I added a formula to subtract the rank on 8/2 from the rank on 8/5 (=G7-D7). To make it more obvious which products improved and which did worse, I added conditional formatting to highlight negative numbers with red and positive numbers with green.

Is there another view you’d like me to demonstrate? Ask me in the comments.

Limitations

This system for tracking and reporting rankings is not perfect.

You must manually download the data from Kimono Labs to Excel to run a report. That’s a bit clunky. This process could be automated with some code.

Kimono Labs is still in free Beta so stability is an issue. Scraping, as a general rule, fails fairly often and I’ve experienced spotty page loading. They allow you to scrape and store an impressive amount of data for free though. If you know of a better, free tool be sure to let everyone know in the comments.

Excel itself is a limitation. If you get beyond 500,000 rows of data it will start to crawl. That may sound like a lot, but if you want to track 5 pages of results for 100 keywords every day, you will generate 8,000 rows of data per day. Excel is not a long-term solution.

My company is working on a rankings tool that will address all of these limitations, but it is a couple months away. If you want an email when it’s ready, fill out the form here. For now, I’m living with the limitations of this system and getting some great insight.

Questions?

This post has a really long list of steps so if you have an issue, let me know via email (my first name @dnaresponse.com) or in the comments.

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!

Does Infographic Marketing Still Work? A Data Driven Answer

I used to be a big fan of leveraging infographics to grow my traffic and brand. Why? Because it used to provide exceptional results. The results were so great that when we started releasing infographics on the KISSmetrics blog in 2010, it helped us generate 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks. Based on the KISSmetrics stats from 2010,  [click to continue...]