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Abishek GM (Kev)

Google my Business

Tips to Boost Your Google My Business Profile

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Are you leveraging your responses to Google reviews and using the new Google My Business (GMB) tools to get a leg up on your local search competitors?

If not, here are some major points to consider when boosting your GMB presence.

1. Encourage Reviews:

Reviews are one of the best ways to grow your GMB profile. They cost nothing but do much to raise your business’s profile to organic searchers.

Think about how you might go about weeding through a large selection of local general contractors if you have never employed one before.

You have no idea if the claims made on a contractor’s website are accurate since you don’t have third-party confirmation of areas such as costs and quality of workmanship.

In this case, what you need are GMB reviews to raise you up in local searches.

People who look up contractors in their area will be more likely to trust your business if they see you have 10 or 15 reviews in the four-to-five-star area.

But those reviews won’t show up overnight.

You often have to do a little outreach to happy customers to get them to leave reviews at all.

You can do this by email, postcard, or simply by asking them verbally to review their experience with you.

Another option is to take advantage of review-management platforms such as BirdEye, ReviewPush, and Pozative. These programs allow you to:

  • Organize your customer reviews.
  • Send text message review requests.
  • Respond to new Google reviews directly from email alerts.

No matter how you do it, your review requests should encourage customers to be honest and detailed in their analyses.

Ask them to provide original photographs of the work you did for them or a product you sold them.

Photos are great for increasing your GMB profile’s visibility even more.

2. Avoid Spammy Tactics:

Google is definitely smart enough today to know when someone is trying to cheat the system by, for instance, automating content, creating doorway pages, and keyword stuffing.

The same idea applies to GMB.

This is Google’s own tool, so why would the largest, most robust search engine in existence let you get away with spammy tactics such as paying people to leave positive reviews?

Potential customers are going to trust real, honest reviews.

Google and those review sites I mentioned do, too. They know when you’ve paid some dubious website to provide a fake five-star review for your business.

In fact, review sites are able to detect spammy reviews and will flag your site as being dishonest.

The flag will result in a popup that users will see when they arrive on one of your pages, warning them not to trust your site.

The same concept applies to offering incentives, such as future discounts, for people to leave positive GMB reviews. In this case, doing this could simply backfire on your online reputation.

If people mention the incentive in their review, potential customers might think their praise is false.

At the same time, trying to bribe people for positive reviews glosses over the potential facts of a situation.

Even if people had negative experiences with your business, they won’t say so in their reviews. This makes it more likely that future customers will be “fooled” and end up having a bad time when they expected something better.

3. Respond to Negative Reviews:

Instead of working harder than you need to by engaging in these kinds of tactics, I advise you simply to preempt negative GMB reviews before they happen or to respond diligently to bad reviews that do come through.

The former would obviously require you to dig in and make sure that every aspect of your enterprise is running smoothly.

Cater to your customers at all times, and if something goes wrong, be understanding, address it then and there, and make sure people leave happy.

When negative reviews do appear online, reach out to those customers to apologize and empathize. This shows the general public that you care about your clients even after they depart your establishment.

4. Leverage New GMB Tools:

My final recommendation for boosting your GMB profile is to take advantage of the relatively recent additions Google has rolled out for its online business tool.

One such feature is the Google Marketing Kit, which allows you to create free stickers, posters, and social media posts for advertising your business’s promotions and events.

In particular, the social posts should be an enormous boon to your online presence. You can create cool posters of your positive reviews, featuring blurbs from the text, and then share them on your social media platforms.

GMB also now lets users follow your business’s local profile just as they would on a social network such as Facebook or Instagram. Followers would then get access to your business’s:

  • New GMB social posts.
  • Offers.
  • Blog posts.
  • Events.
  • Product updates.

All of these things help to increase brand awareness in your followers.

Lastly, Google Posts let you advertise new coupons, deals, and events in creative ways. You can even use images, videos, and call-to-action buttons to drive up user engagement.

Google Posts is a great GMB advertising method because its analytics feature lets you see how users interacted with whatever you posted. You can use the data you discover to craft even better posts next time.

In the not-too-distant future, keep an eye out for GMB’s “local favorites” feature, which will award digital and physical badges to the top 5 percent of local businesses per category.

Not many details are known about this yet, such as whether the categories of businesses will be separated by region, and, if so, how those regions will be partitioned.

Conclusion:

As you can see from the effort Google is putting into its new GMB tools, the search engine giant wants you to build up your business’s local profile.

Having a vigorous GMB presence will help local customers find you, and encouraging those customers to leave positive reviews will drive even more clients into your establishment.

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Helpful Tips to Choose the Right Keywords to Optimize

Helpful Tips to Choose the Right Keywords to Optimize

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Keyword research and targeting have been around as long as SEO. We all do it at some level.

While context and quality of content are what really matter, we have to at some level determine what keywords or topics we want to be well-positioned for.

There are a ton of great tools, resources, and processes for doing keyword research.

But no matter how good the keyword research process is, there’s always a risk of choosing to target keywords and topics that require a lot of effort and don’t produce the results we want.

Ultimately, we need to be careful to choose the right keywords to optimize for.

We can do so by taking an approach that includes specific principals to keep us on track for the right targeting for our organizations.

1. Identify Goals:

It might seem like it goes without saying, but we have to start with goals for any organic or paid search effort.

Knowing ultimately what we want to accomplish at a business or organizational level and working backward to determine how search influences it is our starting point.

If we want to grow our leads, sales, engagement, or other metrics, by a certain amount, we can determine how many search conversions and traffic we need.

To get the traffic, we have to be found for specific keywords and topics.

2. Ask Stakeholders:

With goals in place, we’re ready to start finding the right keywords.

To generate a seed list, we can gather insights and ideas from stakeholders like salespeople, other parts of the marketing team, the C-suite, customers, and prospects.

Get input from stakeholders of what they would search for to find your business, your products, your services, or your content.

At this point, take anything they give you. We’re not yet at the step of filtering or judging the validity or accuracy of what they’re telling you.

Capture and build out a list of what you’re hearing and learning.

3. Analyze Competitors:

We never want to assume that our competitors are doing it right or well.

However, we have to take a look at what they are targeting and doing.

  • Are your traditional competitors outranking you?
  • Do they offer the same products, services, or content?

Then, chances are there is something to learn from them.

Review:

  • Their title and meta description tags.
  • The topics of the pages on their site.
  • What they are talking about and are positioned for prominently in search results, social media, PR, and beyond.

Create a list of what topics, terms, and phrases you’re finding competitors focusing on that align in any way with your organization and content.

4. Perform Keyword Research:

There are a lot of great resources that talk about the tools and processes for doing keyword research for both organic and paid search.

I’m not going to detail that here, but do want to note that you need to take care in ensuring you’re looking at match types and using the right tools for paid versus organic search.

Know the mistakes to avoid and don’t use Google Keyword Planner for SEO.

As you research, you’ll want to use the seed keywords and terms you identified through stakeholder and competitor review.

Work to further expand these lists by finding related keywords.

5. Identify Topics:

Chances are, you’ve got a ton of individual words and phrases after you performed your keyword research.

The good news is that topics matter more than keywords.

You won’t be building out pages for every single keyword and you don’t need to. If you haven’t, you need to translate from keywords to topics.

To help get started on that, you can use the content on your site (unless you’re launching a new organization from scratch).

At some point, decisions were made on how to group content on the website into product, service, or topical structures.

I’m not assuming that your site navigation or information architecture is perfect. But, there are likely topics or themes there if you have some depth of content already.

You can use those topics as a starting point if you feel confident in them.

Regardless, if you looked through your full keyword research data, specific themes or topics have probably emerged naturally.

From your keyword list, ensure that you’ve found meaningful groups of topics.

These will likely be your ad groups for paid search or your content clusters or sections on the site for SEO focus.

6. Ensure Topical Relevance & Alignment:

With keyword research distilled down to specific topics and themes, you can then validate the keywords to make sure they are the right terms.

While it might seem like a great idea to want to rank for “cars” as a local car dealership – that might not be the best use of paid search budget or SEO investment.

Yes, technically, we are all about cars at the car dealership. But, we’re about a whole bunch of layers deeper and more specific in what we are really about.

If the person searching is looking for a brand I don’t carry new inventory for, I have wasted that effort or budget for that click.

Find the balance of your topics and keywords to ensure it is as closely tied as possible to your products, services, or content offerings.

7. Review the SERPs:

It might feel like we’ve used all of the filters and ways to validate our keywords we can.

However, with the ever-changing layout of the search engine results pages, we have to dedicate some time to manually looking at them.

Take some of your top keywords and topics and literally search for them on the search engines.

  • What comes up?
  • Do you see the competitors you expect?
  • Where do the organic and paid listings appear on the page?
  • Is there a lot of noise?

If you’re finding that the search results aren’t where you want to be or where your target audience is searching, then you might want to rethink the importance of those keywords or that topic in your strategy.

This is especially true for organic results. They can be pushed so far below the fold on desktop and phone browsers that even with the right keyword ranked number one, you still might not get the traffic to drive the conversions and end goals that you need.

8. Monitor Performance:

It’s only when your paid search and SEO plans are put into action that you’ll get the real data you need – and find out if you’ve picked the “right” keywords.

Certain keywords may perform better than others. There can be a large number of reasons why.

However, when you have data you can adjust the priority you put on specific topics and keywords. Or, you can identify other areas to optimize in your marketing or website.

Things to watch for:

  • Keywords that you can’t rank for organically.
  • Keywords that produce a lot of impressions but few clicks.
  • Keywords that produce a lot of traffic, but not a lot of conversions.

All of these are indicators to dig deeper and go back through the principles outlined.

I’d start by looking at the SERPs and then dig into analytics to see if there’s a conversion rate optimization need, a UX issue, or something deeper.

Conclusion:

The nature of search marketing and ever-changing landscape makes the word “right” feel subjective.

Technically, it is when choosing keywords for paid and organic search.

However, you have to start somewhere.

Make sure you have a way to ensure that the work that is being put into keyword research and optimization matters.

By knowing end goals, creating topics, and validating the keywords we’re choosing, we can put forth our best effort initially.

From there, the ongoing monitoring and validation doesn’t end.

We have to cycle through the principals to ensure that we did pick the right terms and that we continue to refine our campaigns and efforts with a focus on quality and performance.

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Tried & Tested Tips for Improving SEO & Developer Relations

Tried & Tested Tips for Improving SEO & Developer Relations

By | Networking Bizz News

The relationship between SEO professionals and developers is one typified by frustration and misunderstanding.

From an SEO perspective, it can be difficult to communicate the value and importance of search-related initiatives and to get them prioritized in development pipelines.

From a developer’s point of view, SEO can seem like a never-ending source of tickets and annoyance that delays them from delivering their work on time.

As web technologies become more advanced, SEO is becoming more technically sophisticated, which means it is increasingly important that we actively examine ways to work more harmoniously with development teams.

Over the past few months, I’ve been speaking with some of the most experienced and respected people in SEO and digital marketing to find out how they’ve built and nurtured relationships with development and engineering teams to achieve success.

In this post, I’m going to share some of the best insights from these conversations.

1. Heal the Wounds Left by Bad SEO Experiences:

While a large part of SEO is now focused on meeting the user intent of searchers with high-quality content, developers and other teams may still have a lingering mistrust of SEO pros.

The days of keyword stuffing and bulk link buying are no longer seen as popular or sustainable SEO practices by most, but it may take time and relationship building for an SEO to win the trust of developers because of their prior experiences.

At a previous job, JP Sherman, Manager of Search and Findability from Red Hat, needed to gain the trust of developers who had been burnt by a bad SEO agency.

Rather than going into the business and making demands of the developers about what needed to be changed from an SEO perspective, Sherman made a point sitting down with the company’s developers to establish their common goals and put a plan in place to achieve these while overcoming shared frustrations with the website.

After a year of this approach, he managed to build a level of trust with the development team and turned an audience of skeptics into SEO advocates.

2. Involve Developers by Hosting a Hackathon:

One novel way to get developers interested and engaged with SEO initiatives is by hosting a hackathon.

Polly Pospelova, Head of Search at Delete, organized a hackathon and invited the agency’s developers to participate.

The sole aim of the hackathon was to get a perfect score in Lighthouse for the agency’s own website.

The event was a massive success, as the developers were not only able to achieve a score of 100 in Lighthouse but this shared objective laid the blueprint for speed optimization work that Pospelova was able to roll to many of Delete’s clients.

Pospelova’s hackathon is an inspiring and original example of how SEO and marketing pros can work successfully with developers by working to achieve a common goal.

3. Embed Yourself in Your Client’s Organization:

From an agency’s perspective, it often isn’t enough to simply provide a list of SEO recommendations off the back of an audit and expect these to be actioned by the client’s developers.

Without clear explanations and prioritization of your SEO recommendations backed by a close understanding of the client’s business, there is a fair chance your suggestions will get lost amongst other priorities.

Arnout Hellemans, Consultant at OnlineMarketThink, suggests making an effort to embed agency staff within their client’s organization for a fruitful long-term relationship.

He’s spoken with agencies who send their staff out to work from their client’s offices for a couple of days every now and again.

Rather than the relationship, largely existing only Slack and emails, the agencies are able to build much stronger relationships with their client’s developers by sitting with them and better understanding their priorities, challenges, and ways of working.

4. Pick Your Battles Carefully:

While it’s clearly important for SEO pros to build strong relationships with developers, it can also pay to be strategic in terms of the recommendations that you push to be actioned.

It’s often the case that there are large numbers of actions resulting from an audit, but are all of them going to have the same impact?

Areej AbuAli, Technical SEO Manager at Zoopla, said it’s important to avoid overwhelming developers with too many recommendations at once.

She learned the hard way that it is beneficial to focus on getting the mission-critical items prioritized in development pipelines and actioned first before moving on to less pressing recommendations.

This approach helps to ensure that you’re maximizing your SEO impact, while not overwhelming developers with tickets of varying importance.

5. Become a Bridge Between the Technical and Commercial:

Being able to understand and empathize with both commercial and technical challenges and frustrations is another way that SEO professionals can work effectively with developers.

It’s important to become a bridge between the technical and commercial aspects of the business, according to Ecommerce Consultant Luke Carthy.

Have regular meetings with the business’s developers to empathize with the challenges that they face in order to help overcome shared pain points, Carthy suggested.

Doing so can help to put long term solutions in place and increase the chance of forming strong working relationships.

In his example, he listened closely to the company’s developers and raised their frustrations with the managing director so they were able to completely redevelop the site and stop papering over cracks with short-term solutions.

6. Upgrade Your Technical Skills:

Your ability to work with development teams as an SEO professional is going to greatly improve the more you’re able to speak their language and understand the challenges they face.

It’s one thing to be able to identify technical issues impacting the crawling and indexing of a website by search engines and raise that with a developer.

However, it’s far more valuable if you can debug technical issues and propose well-reasoned solutions after:

  • Evaluating the pros and cons of different approaches.
  • Taking into account the circumstances of the website, business and available resources.

AbuAli said it’s important to upskill and hone technical skills. This will help you move faster analyzing large datasets as an SEO.

Improving your technical skills and better understanding of how the web works will empower you to have more productive conversations with developers.

This leaves less room for misunderstanding and leads to more agile decision making.

7. Establish Yourself as a Trusted Authority:

Another crucial component to building trust and a healthy relationship with development teams is to show yourself to be knowledgeable in your field.

Actively promote ongoing education on SEO topics that are relevant to the business.

At Red Hat, Sherman hosts regular presentations and in-person meetings, and writes documentation to encourage discussion and interest within development teams who wouldn’t otherwise be keeping up to date with SEO developments.

He aims to lay out the case for making SEO improvements in advance of search engine changes (like mobile-first indexing) through knowledge-sharing sessions.

When this work is then prioritized, Sherman makes sure he backs this up with internal guidance and documentation that is ready to share with the relevant people.

Sherman also acknowledged that it can be frustrating when SEO recommendations aren’t prioritized or actioned but sometimes it’s important to understand that your suggestions are necessarily going to be the best thing for the website or business to do at that time.

8. Get SEO Involved from the Beginning:

One common frustration between SEO professionals and developers is that the former gets involved far too late on projects.

This is an annoyance for developers because they are likely going to receive a lot of last-minute SEO related tasks that they don’t necessarily see the benefit of completing.

From an SEO point of view, being involved too late on in a project will mean we are forced to fight fires and make last-minute development requests to avert disaster impacting a website’s organic performance.

Chris Green, Head of Marketing Innovation at Footprint Digital, said it’s important to get SEO considerations into projects from their inception rather than as an afterthought.

After completing hundreds of migrations, Green has acknowledged that SEO pros aren’t usually the most popular people on projects.

But this can be averted by making compromises and focusing on the tasks that are critical to organic performance and technical health rather than adding to the developers workloads for the sake of SEO best practice.

For example, during a migration SEO pros should be prioritizing things like 301s, crawl budget optimization’, and breadcrumbs rather than social media icon alt tags, minimum word counts, and rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.

Share Your Experiences
I hope this post has featured a helpful selection of ideas to help you work more effectively with development teams.

I would be keen to continue the discussion in the comments below. Share your experiences, approaches, and tips about what’s worked and hasn’t worked for you.

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sem vs seo vs ppc

SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC Defined: What’s the Difference?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

What’s the Difference?

As someone who likes to think he is organized – or, as someone who at least likes to organize things – I’ve attempted to treat digital marketing terms similarly.

The same can be said for now-Googler and search industry pioneer Danny Sullivan when he began routinely using the term “search engine marketing” in 2001 to describe the overarching niche within the digital marketing industry that focuses on search engines.

As my thinking went (and as Sullivan admits he intended), search engine marketing, or SEM, would be (and once was) a useful way to summarize and classify both the paid and non-paid initiatives that go into digital marketing via search engines.

That would mean both the pay-per-click advertisements, or PPC ads, and the organic search initiatives commonly referred to as search engine optimization, or SEO, would fall under that SEM blanket term.

SEM would be the category of marketing through search engines. The paid (PPC) and non-paid (SEO) channels of SEM would both fall under it in terms of hierarchy.

And, even when you consider the literal terminology in coordination with this idea of SEO and PPC falling under that SEM blanket, it almost makes sense.

But, much like the English language, pop culture, and the Cleveland Browns, it simply can’t work the way it’s supposed to.

There will always be exceptions to the rule (like the aforementioned conundrums above).

So, confusing it may be. But the search industry shapes itself, and it has not agreed with Mr. Sullivan over the years, adopting the term SEM to fit strictly into the paid search sphere.

It surely appears it’s there to stay, too.

Difference Between SEM & PPC:

PPC is SEM.

That is, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the same as search engine marketing (SEM), or at least a vital part of it.

SEO is none of those things.

What likely evolved over time due to the multiple potentially confusing digital marketing acronyms, as well as the need to define specific paid initiatives outside of Google paid search, brought two heavily used cost-driven marketing terms to mean the same thing (leading to even more potential confusion from newbies).

I’ve always tried to make sense of the literal meaning of things, too, especially acronyms.

But from there, it’s easy to get even more lost in the idea.

While the breakdown of the abbreviation PPC is spot on — regardless if it’s called PPC, CPC, paid search, search ads – we know it is referring to paid search marketing, typically through search engines like Google and Bing.

Other terms and tactics used in digital marketing initiatives – especially those tied to search marketing tactics (both paid and organic) – may not be so simple and clearly defined, though.

Difference Between SEO & PPC:

We know SEO is search engine optimization.

But, to echo the sentiments of search pioneer Mike Grehan, that never did make much sense.

Marketers aren’t optimizing search engines; we’re optimizing content and websites for search engines (secondly, right after optimizing them for humans) so they can better understand, access, and relay our property to the masses.

Again, acronyms don’t always make sense. So, naturally, this is a bit illogical.

Just like other things in life that don’t always add up, there are some acronyms that will never make sense either.

Like Humvee, which doesn’t stand for any words that start with U or E in them. (It actually stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, and was spawned from the original acronym, HMMWV.)

We’ve also determined that PPC marketing is (at least now) the same as, or a very large part of, SEM.

  • Both are paid initiatives.
  • Both need budget.
  • Both make search engines like Google and other advertising platforms a lot of money.

But, while Wikipedia defines SEM as “a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising,” it’s not so quick to call them the same exact thing.

In fact, pay-per-click marketing has its own separate Wikipedia page than the topic of search engine marketing (despite there being plenty of discrepancies and confusion throughout the page).

The bottom line is this:

SEO is not a component of SEM.

And, while PPC is typically the largest and most demanding component of SEM, both PPC and SEM are paid initiatives that offer real-time data, ROI, and protected data that can only be accessed by advertisers of certain platforms.

Why It Matters:

The most important reason for clarification around these important terms and abbreviations is consistency.

Too many novice marketers, or marketers who aren’t specialists in maximizing value through search, have adopted these industry definitions and crossed them, combined them, confused them, and used them in a way that only further diluted their true meaning.

And even well-seasoned marketers who simply didn’t agree with or possibly even completely understand the terms themselves help contribute to the turning tide as well.

Conferences have set up entire segments of their educational offering around the SEM naming convention when referring to strictly paid marketing efforts, but those efforts aren’t strictly done through search engines.

SEM, at least from this perspective, includes PPC ads on search engines but also on third-party platforms like Amazon and YouTube, as well as industry-focused platforms like Houzz, or Thumbtack, or Yelp. It also includes display ads and remarketing efforts.

And, as the opportunity to advertise on social media continues to grow, it tends to include paid advertising on those networks, too.

Keeping the definitions and their usage consistent is going to be the best way to keep the information organized in a way that makes sense for marketers.

It also helps us as marketers to convey our thoughts and ideas to clients and their stakeholders, our peers, or a friend who is curious about what exactly it is we do for a living.

Using the Marketing Right Terms for the Right People & Setting:

When discussing digital marketing – specifically search marketing – and how it pertains to a brand or message, it’s important for marketers to use language that is digestible for clients and potential clients.

Needless to say, 8 out of 10 times, non-marketers already don’t know the difference between incredibly different key terms.

Like SEO and PPC (or SEM), when speaking to someone outside of the search marketing community, these terms need to be clearly defined at least once, and typically more than once, throughout the conversation.

We all have those new-business pitch stories where a client goes on throughout years of his or her life thinking SEO is responsible for paid search ads or that paid search ads were achieved through organic optimizations.

First, the terms must be understood on a level playing field. Hopefully, this post helps do that.

We now are in agreement that:

  • SEM and PPC refer to paid initiatives through search and other advertising platforms on the internet.
  • While SEO is the organic effort that goes into marketing through search engines.

Secondly, we must always consider who the audience is and the level of knowledge it has when it comes to digital marketing, particularly search marketing, while also ensuring we detail:

  • What each term means.
  • How it works.
  • How it relates to the audience’s goals.

Lastly, and most importantly, we must never assume someone on the other end of our conversation knows what we are referring to when we use important industry terms like SEO, PPC, or SEM.

We must be concise and explain exactly what is we are talking about. Ensure the group partaking in the conversation is in agreement.

On a bad day, someone else in the room may disagree and tell us we are wrong.

On a good day, though, we’ll get a room full of people all on the same page who are able to move forward and correctly use consistent terminology for some of the most important practices in digital marketing today.

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Ongoing: Your Secret to SEO Success

Ongoing: Your Secret to SEO Success

By | seo advice for business
Ongoing education is essential to SEO success.

It’s how the top SEO professionals, and the brands they manage, stay on top.

SEO is an ever-changing industry and landscape. The same rule that applies to search rankings applies to SEO savvy: if you remain status quo, you’re losing ground.

What would your SEO strategy look like if you were still following best practices from 2010? 2000? 1996 when search engines rose to prominence?

You would have keyword-stuffed pages and be chasing blog comment links, and you would not be performing in search.

As an SEO, to avoid getting left behind you must constantly educate yourself to keep up with the changing times and best practices.

Just Look at 2019!

To understand how rapidly SEO changes and why continuous education is necessary, we don’t have to look any further than this current year.

In 2019 alone, we’ve seen major changes and important trends emerge that have a drastic and lasting impact on the SEO landscape. These trends include:

  • The evolution of how Google measures E-A-T and its significance in terms of search rankings.
  • And Google’s continuous push to answer queries within the SERP and the emergence of zero-result queries.

This is not the entire list of everything that happened in 2019, but it demonstrates how quickly things can move in SEO. Let’s take a quick look at each of these developments.

The Influence of E-A-T on Search & Our Understanding of It:

Right off the bat, I want to explicitly state E-A-T is not a ranking factor.

However, this does not mean E-A-T doesn’t influence rankings, or rather, our understanding of and investment in E-A-T influences our ability to rank.

Ryan Jones explains this concept well in a tweet from Pubcon:

We should be working to improve the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of our site because these improvements correlate with the actual signals (content quality and backlinks) that Google is trying to measure with their algorithm.

While this all may seem somewhat ambiguous – I can hear Matt Cutts saying, “create good content!” – Lily Ray has done a great job of sharing actionable insights.

Some things you can do to improve the E-A-T of your website include:

  • Improving your online reputation via third-party review sites.
  • Minimizing ad placements on your site to avoid diminishing user experience.
  • Being transparent about who your brand is and who the people are behind it, particularly the authors of your content.
  • Citing credible sources and earning citations as a credible source.

You can see more of Lily’s helpful tips here, or check out these other helpful E-A-T resources here on Search Engine Journal:

  • 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Google E-A-T Rating
  • Google’s John Mueller is Asked About Links and E-A-T
  • Google’s Mueller Asked About increasing E-A-T with Structured Data

Is Google Trying to Create an Answer Engine?

With the recent trends we’ve seen from Google, it seems that they are pushing more and more towards having an answer engine rather than a search engine – Google wants to answer queries within their platform, rather than provide links to external resources.

The idea of zero-result SERPs is a frightening prospect for SEO professionals who work to build search visibility and gain organic traffic from Google’s search results, and for some queries, this notion is already a reality.

Furthermore, there has been a rise in queries that show results but result in zero-clicks – obviously, this isn’t ideal for an SEO either.

Rand Fishkin has been conducting research into click-through-rates and how Google is trying to keep users on their platform, and I recommend you review his findings to learn more.

This type of “future-casting” is a great example of why you need to be continuously learning and experimenting in SEO – you need to identify trends to understand where the industry is heading and how you can get ahead.

For example, if you’re targeting a keyword because it has a large monthly search volume, but it’s tied to queries with zero-clicks, you’re going to struggle to earn organic traffic.

Operating based on outdated assumptions (big search volume = big opportunity) can lead to ineffective and inefficient work.

These are just some of the changes and updates that we saw this year that demonstrate how rapidly the SEO landscape can evolve. If you’re not paying attention and leveling up your skills, you will be left behind.

Staying Informed with SEO

So how do you stay informed and continually grow your knowledge base for SEO?

The SEO community, in general, is great about collaborating and sharing information.

Since nobody really knows how Google’s search algorithm works exactly, it seems to foster a “we’re in this together” mentality within the SEO space where people share their tests and findings to help move the collective understanding forward.

Some of the ways you can tap into the community to support your ongoing SEO education include:

  • Attending trade shows and industry events.
  • Staying active on social media.
  • And reading and watching online content.

Each of these channels provide opportunities to challenge your assumptions and further your SEO knowledge.

Trade Shows & Events

One of the best ways to keep tabs on what’s happening in the SEO industry is to attend trade shows and industry events.

The presentations at these events typically feature discussions and research from the bleeding-edge of SEO. These are the platforms where industry experts like to share their new studies and discoveries, and sometimes these shows even feature experts from Google sharing best practices and updates on search.

You can find a list of the top SEO events here on Search Engine Journal.

Paying for tickets and travel to these shows can get expensive.

So, If you’re unable to make it to the show itself, it’s always a good idea to follow the sponsored hashtag on Twitter and keep an eye out for recap posts.

While these options aren’t as valuable as going to the shows – you miss out on all the networking opportunities – social posts and recap blogs will keep you abreast of the biggest takeaways from the event.

Social Media

Speaking of social media, you can learn a lot about SEO via social.

Twitter, in particular, has an active SEO community.

While 280 characters may not seem like enough space to have in-depth SEO discussions, the way the platform is designed, combined with an active community, makes for a great learning environment.

Twitter is often the place where updates and major changes to search rankings are discovered.

SEO pros from across the industry can share and compare the changes they are seeing in real-time, which makes it possible to spot trends and draw conclusions about how search results are changing.

In fact, Twitter often provides an opportunity to speak directly to Google employees. Some notable accounts you should be following include:

  • John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google
  • Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google
  • Danny Sullivan, Public Search Liaison at Google
  • Official Google Webmasters account

Outside of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn groups provide great platforms for SEO discussion as well.

There are also several great SEO forums, such as:

  • Google’s Webmaster Forum
  • r/BigSEO
  • SEOChat
  • Warrior Forum
  • The Moz Q&A Forum

The key is to find the right group for your knowledge level and area of interest, and of course, you want to find a group that is active and start engaging yourself – often, the best way to learn more about an SEO subject or theory is by trying to explain it to someone else.

Quora is an excellent place to answer SEO questions and demonstrate, and test, your SEO knowledge.

There are also numerous SEO experts to follow that share industry news and insights daily. Check out Search Engine Journal’s list here to find some of the best and brightest minds in SEO to learn from.

SEO Content

As mentioned before, the SEO industry is great about sharing knowledge, and as such, there is never a shortage of fresh, quality SEO content.

Whether it’s a video, podcast, or blog post, there is always new, informative content available. News sites like Search Engine Journal provide the best of both worlds with in-depth, actionable blog posts as well as analysis of the latest developments in SEO.

I’d recommend subscribing to the SEJ Today newsletter to keep a pulse on the industry as a whole and to keep an eye out for content that may provide a solution to the current challenge you’re facing. The Moz Top 10 is another great resource that curates the best SEO content from around the web every two weeks.

Again, explaining SEO concepts is often the best way to learn more and writing your own SEO content is an effective way to increase your knowledge base.

Personally, I’ve learned much of what I know about SEO from conducting the necessary research associated with the post I write.

The process of writing an in-depth guide on a new topic requires a deep understanding of that topic, so if you want to learn something new, try writing a post about that concept.

Of course, if you’re not a writer or are looking for outside perspectives, there are many great SEO blogs to follow, and Search Engine Journal has a solid list here,

Test Everything You Learn with SEO Experiments

Really, the best way to expand your knowledge and challenge SEO assumptions is by doing the actual work and experimenting.

Again, no one outside of Google search engineers – and with all the machine learning, maybe not even them at this point – knows all the intricacies of the search algorithm, so even the most widely accepted SEO theories are still just theories.

You should always be tracking the results of your SEO efforts to make sure you’re working toward your goals, but you can also leverage these opportunities for learning experiences.

Learned about a new link building tactic? Test it on a small scale within your own campaign and measure the efficacy.

Heard about a new best practice for on-page SEO?

Implement the change on a subset of your pages and track the results.

The best way to learn is by doing, and it’s no different with SEO.

There are so many mitigating factors in SEO (different business models, different niches, different websites, etc.) that you need to take any best practice with a grain of salt anyway, so testing on your own site is necessary.

The key with SEO testing and experiments is to contain your test to a small sample size and then scale up as you see positive results.

Through continual learning (and testing of what you learn), you’ll ensure that you’re always following SEO best practices and implementing changes that improve the performance of your site in search.

While there is no “magic bullet” in SEO that will guarantee you success, through ongoing education, you can hone in on what has the largest impact on your website, overcome any challenges or obstacles, outmaneuver your competition, and the results will feel like magic!

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Simple & Fast Ways to Elevate Your Content

Simple & Fast Ways to Elevate Your Content

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

1. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is a prerequisite to every marketing campaign.

And maybe because this immutable marketing law has been ingrained in the marketer’s mind for so long, too many content marketers take it for granted.

Others fail to appreciate that different target audience segments respond to different content differently.

Let’s say you sell professional baking tools, and your target audience consists of two primary segments: baking enthusiasts and professional bakers.

You might be tempted to write the same article touting the benefits of your baking tools for both segments. But then you wouldn’t be writing content optimized for conversions.

  • The amateur baker will likely want to hear more about how reliable and easy-to-use your baking products are.
  • Whereas the experienced professional baker might be more interested in technical features that speak to how advanced or versatile your products are compared to the competition.

The area of expertise is another good criterion for content segmentation.

  • If you’re selling software to hospitals, you may want to create content emphasizing the product’s finance features when targeting hospital administrators, CFOs, and other C-suite professionals.
  • But when targeting marketing and customer service professionals, you can focus on the CRM component of your software.

Both audience segments are interested in the same product, but your content should be tailored to each group’s unique needs, interests, or goals.

2. Follow Online & Offline Trends:

The best way to get your content seen by as many people as possible is to ride whatever big trend is popular – as long as it’s relevant.

Many companies boost their social media presence by commenting on current events, especially on Twitter, but you can take it even further and integrate the trend in an article or post.

Take every opportunity to make your brand part of the conversation, but make sure to avoid tackling any controversial topics or messages that would come across as tone-deaf.

Most consumers think companies’ sole goal is to make money, so adopting an overly preachy tone (e.g., Gilette’s “We Believe” ad) might attract ridicule.

3. Focus on Titles:

The title is the most important element of your content when it comes to catching readers’ attention.

Not only should the title be catchy and intriguing, but it should also accurately reflect the article’s central theme in a way that optimizes click-through rates.

It’s no wonder many writers spend a significant amount of time poring over different title versions.

So how do you write a CTR boosting title? Here are some quick tips:

  • Use numbers and statistics whenever possible.
  • Inform the reader, but don’t give away everything.
  • Use a headline analyzer like CoSchedule to check how your title fares in terms of length, word choice, and other key variables.
  • Resist the temptation of clickbait – it may garner a large number of clicks, but it will only damage your credibility; you need to find the right balance between intriguing and obnoxious.

4. Don’t Focus on Selling All the Time:

Nothing takes you out of an insightful read like a sales pitch or excessive promotional links. When users come to your site, they want value, not ads.

Granted, there’s nothing wrong with mentioning your products or services if they are relevant to the topic – even independent influencers sprinkle affiliate links in their posts.

But keep in mind that consumers might find affiliate links off-putting.

5. Offer Actual Insight:

You’ve probably come across articles that were only one step above lorem ipsum text in terms of value – simply written to take up screen space and hit keywords.

Clearly, that is not the kind of content you want associated with your brand.

All text on your website or social media should be purposeful.

Avoid fluff and any content that doesn’t enhance your audience’s understanding of the subject.

Strike the right balance between informative and concise, and you won’t lose your audience with content that doesn’t add any value to the subject at hand.

6. Include Data:

There’s something about numbers that makes people click.

For example, saying that ‘86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps’ wouldn’t have the same impact if you replaced the percentage with a word like ‘most’. That’s because data works on several levels.

  • Quantifiable insight automatically makes your argument more credible. In fact, articles with digits in their titles are 175% more likely to be shared.
  • Data can help predict future trends. For example, if a topic suddenly spiked in popularity at some point and then leveled out, we can probably assume that the trend isn’t sustainable in the long-term.
  • Data can also help your audience understand the current and future trends in their areas of interest by assessing how many of their peers are adopting new technologies or using new services.
  • Data provides social proof, making your audience conscious of what other people are doing, and implicitly making them more likely to follow suit.

7. Repurpose Old Content:

There is nothing wrong with recycling a good idea, especially if you’ve generated a lot of content throughout the years.

You can easily breathe new life into content like articles, podcasts, and webinars.

For example:

  • Old webinars can be re-edited into video tutorials.
  • Old blog posts and articles can become whitepapers or newsletters.
  • Presentations can be stitched into infographics.
  • Any interesting tidbit or fragment can be posted on social media.

The point is to not think of your most engaging content as a one-shot deal, but rather as an opportunity to restructure and reshare it across new mediums, reaching broader and more diverse audiences.

Think about how often arguments made in newspaper op-eds eventually make it into books, and vice versa. So, recycle away!

8. Be Mindful of Structure:

Nothing discourages a reader like a block of text. Whether it’s a 100-word email or a 1,000-word article, line breaks are a must.

Longer paragraphs (up to 15 rows) are fine within articles or blog posts.

For emails, 5 rows should be the limit. Each paragraph should have its own sub-topic and seamlessly transition into the next paragraph.

Bullet points, images, tables, charts, and infographics are also a great way to break a lengthier article or post. Not only that, but they also help the reader better digest the information they’ve just read by putting it in a visual form.

Your reader is much more likely to retain information about your product if that information is displayed in a chart, not just text.

9. Use Conversion-Optimizing Images:

Your content needs images.

It’s cliché, but true: a picture really is worth a thousand words – and your main eye-catcher, no matter what content you’re promoting.

Content with relevant images gets 94% more views.

So how much attention do you pay to the quality and type of images you include?

The truth is that many of us simply rush to upload the first stock photo that remotely matches the content – hardly a conversion-optimizing tactic.

Get into the habit of putting more thought into the images you select. Whether it’s a standalone post, a thumbnail for a video, or a banner, each image you post should meet these criteria:

  • High-quality files: Make sure you save your .jpeg files in the highest quality possible to avoid any artifacts showing up. Even better, use the .png format whenever possible to avoid quality loss.
  • Well-taken shots: There’s a reason why people hire professional photographers or pay for stock photos. Getting the lighting and composition right is not easy, and it makes all the difference. Professional (or advanced amateur) shots are more eye-catching.
  • No obvious stock photos: We’ve all seen typical stock images of smiling employees gathered around a laptop or looking at a chart all over the internet. They’re cheesy, overused, and old news. A good, well-placed stock image should still stand out. Pick authentic images that complement your subject.
  • Appropriate composition for the placing: Certain images only work well for specific uses. For example, choosing a group shot of your team for a video thumbnail is a bad idea because the image will be displayed too small to discern faces. However, that same image would work well in a blog post about your firm’s career opportunities.

Conclusion

Too many marketers lose sight of the importance of thinking about every aspect of content marketing strategically, simply going through the motions of churning out content.

But really, you should think of content marketing as a powerful conversion tool that gives you a wealth of strategic options for reaching different audience segments with tailored messages across various outlets.

The story you tell through content is what drives consumers to your products, and ultimately builds brand loyalty.

And you should tell that story in a way that optimizes conversions, which, if you follow these nine tips, should be a layup.

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Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

Creative Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing ROI

By | Digital Marketing & Google News
Content marketing works.

But – what if it’s not working for you?

What if you’re not seeing the ROI you expected?

This is a frustrating scenario, especially if you read the case studies and follow the success of top content marketers.

What are you doing wrong?

Take a deep breath.

Maybe you just need a few creative tweaks to your content strategy to boost your ROI.

1. Create High-Quality, Evergreen Blog Content:

Investing, time, effort, and money in poor content that doesn’t perform is like throwing all three of those resources in the trashcan.

Instead, ensure your budget is going toward evergreen content pieces that will stay relevant long after you publish them.

Not only that, make doubly sure these blogs are the highest quality you can manage.

Evergreen content is not tied to any one season, news cycle, trend, or fad.

Instead, this content type contains information that will remain true, relevant, and useful for the long term.

If you add quality to the mix, evergreen content will continue to draw in traffic and leads for months after the fact – or even years.

According to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines, high-quality content has these features:

  • Highly useful – Useful content serves a purpose for the reader. It should DO something for them. That can be as simple as providing information on a topic they want to know about, or as complex as solving a specific problem for them.
  • Highly relevant – Relevance in content is key. If your content isn’t relevant to the reader’s search intent for the keyword you’re targeting, you won’t rank. Period.
  • Strong E-A-T – Google wants vetted experts who know their stuff populating the search results – not know-nothing non-experts who just want to rank. Proving your E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) is non-negotiable in high-quality content.

google-search-quality

Think of this strategy (evergreen + high-quality content) as putting some of your content on auto-pilot. It can perform in the background while you focus on more pressing matters, which might be exactly what you need to boost your content marketing ROI.

A truly meta example of evergreen content is Aaron Orendorff’s guide to evergreen content types on Copyblogger. It’s useful and relevant to content creators any time, any place, and the information won’t date itself quickly. It also goes without saying that this is high-quality content.

2. Find Useful, Relevant Topics Your Audience Wants to Read:

Once you decide to publish high-quality evergreen content, what should you write about?

Random topics won’t do. Neither will ones tied to high-volume, highly competitive keywords.

Instead, for the best ROI, you should focus on topics that are:

  • Useful and highly relevant to your audience’s needs and interests.
  • Tied to low-competition keywords with SERPs you can edge into.

For this to work, it goes without saying you need to know and understand your target audience before you can dive into finding topics they’ll respond to.

Once you have a clear picture of your ideal customer in your mind, you can do further research to find those useful, relevant topics tied to keywords:

  • Start with broad keywords or topic areas related to your industry, products, or services. Since this is just a starting point, you can brainstorm these off the top of your head. (For example, “SEO” is a good broad topic area.)
  • Think about what your audience needs/wants to know from your chosen topic/keyword. Remember, this knowledge should help them or improve their lives in some way.
  • Use keyword research tools to find out how competitive this term is and whether you can possibly rank for it.
  • Poke around where your audience lives online to discover if this is the language they’re using to ask Google about this topic.

the-public-preposition-keywords

  • With my keyword tool of choice, KWFinder, I discover the keyword “SEO basics” is too competitive. However, there are related options to target, like “what is SEO.”

kwfinder-research

  • On Twitter, I search the hashtag #seobasics and find a few variations and related keywords within what people are posting. I can research and potentially use these, too!

twitter-keyword-

This is just one method to find relevant keywords on useful topics. The main point to remember, though, is to think like your target reader.

What topics in your wheelhouse would be both useful and relevant to their lives? Start there, then branch out.

3. Bank on Consistency:

After you start publishing quality content on high-ROI topics, you need to start getting consistent. The more consistently you produce stellar, evergreen, useful, relevant content, the better the returns you’ll see.

That’s because Google’s algorithm notices consistency. So do readers.

Think about it. Which brand is more trustworthy and authoritative: The one publishing amazing content every few weeks, or the one pushing out mediocre blogs left and right?

Don’t forget this little fact: The more ranking blogs you have, the more qualified traffic chances you have. The more qualified traffic coming in, the more potential conversions.

That’s why publishing high-quality content regularly is just one of the secrets to boosting your content marketing ROI.

4. Tweak Your Website UX:

For better content marketing ROI, absolutely do focus on improving your content strategy, but don’t forget about another important foundational element: Your website.

Without a good website serving as your content hub and brand headquarters, you won’t rank nearly as high with both Google and readers.

For one, readers/users (or whatever term you prefer to call them) need to be able to seamlessly access your content to consume it, engage with it, and gain something useful from it.

If your site takes 10 minutes to load, or has a confusing design, or too many ads or pop-ups…

Those are roadblocks to your content. The user will be too annoyed or lost to stick around to read your amazing article and start to trust you.

Google picks up on these signals and takes them into account when determining your page’s ranking, especially if your UX lags far behind the competition.

Good UX, or user experience, is a baseline necessity.

A few things you can tweak to improve UX, and thus convince users to at least stay on your page long enough to read your blog headline:

  • Improve your site speed and page load times.
  • Reduce annoying distractions like interstitials and ads. Only include them when they make sense, have relevance to the user experience, or will help the user in some way.
  • Revamp your page navigation so it’s clear, easy to find, and logical.

user-experience

5. Renovate Your Internal & Outbound Links:

Did you know one way to improve your site’s E-A-T is to use internal and outbound links strategically?

Yes, you should link to your other relevant content pieces inside the new ones you publish.

At the same time, you should also link out to other authoritative sources of information inside your content.

Now, a lot of site owners are resistant to this practice, because they think any link going to another site is a distraction that will lead the reader away from their page.

However, that’s just not true.

As long as you’re not linking to direct competitors, linking out to other high-quality information sources to prove points, back up research, or add strength to your argument or topic analysis strengthens your E-A-T.

According to a Reboot study, linking out to other sites shows you associate with them.

If you thus link out to topically relevant pages with authority, that counts positively for you.

Why?

Because you’re showing the user (and Google) pages related to yours that may expand and improve their experience.

In other words, you’re contributing to a useful, connected web, which is exactly how it’s supposed to work.

Take the Holistic View When Boosting Content Marketing ROI

No single tactic is going to help you win more ROI from content.

Instead, you need to think of each piece of your content strategy as parts of an interconnected machine.

No one part will do all the heavy lifting.

Each piece needs to pull its own weight for the whole strategy to work.

So, tweak and tinker with all of the above suggestions, but remember you aren’t working in a vacuum.

If you pour all your focus into one part of content marketing, you’ll lose the big picture.

Zoom out from each piece of the strategy from time to time, see how everything connects, then refocus. With hard work and patience, the ROI will come.

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The Rise of Advertising on Ecommerce Marketplaces

By | E Commerce Business News

We all know, it’s no secret.

Amazon has come to disrupt budgets, raise expectations on conversion rates, and call attention to the quality of what we get for a “click.” (Massive amounts of first-party data is a heck of thing, isn’t it?)

So, instead of rehashing what we already know about the size of the impact to date, let’s pull back a few more levels and take a bigger picture look at:

  • What this means.
  • Who is joining the party.
  • What you should think about as we head into 2020.

Amazon isn’t the first or only marketplace to do advertising – this is just a signal of what is to come, the inevitable, cyclical expansion of advertising.

What we need to do is stop thinking about what is to come in silos and pull our holistic digital butts together. (I want to add other butts, like offline and local, but one thing at a time, eh?)

One thing I want to call out before I start in with the examples is noting a fundamental difference that I hear a lot of search folks complain about when comparing marketplace advertising platforms and options to search.

Remember, advertising is second (and sometimes third or fourth) to selling on the marketplace in revenue generation.

The revenues that a marketplace pulls in from advertising dollars is a fraction of what they pull in from seller fees (category commission rates, ranging from 5%-20% and sometimes as high as 40% of the sale) and store fees (monthly fee).

Adding advertising revenue is pocket change, relatively speaking.

They’re just trying to get you to spend a little more.

So, when you think about investments in the platform, reporting capabilities and attribution, a search engine is highly incentivized to answer those questions and often provide those tools for free to keep you on the platform and searching versus a marketplace.

Advertising in Marketplaces:

Examples – let’s take a look at a non-exhaustive list of marketplaces now offering self-service-ish advertising:

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Wayfair
  • eBay
  • Houzz
  • Etsy

Invite only marketplace/retailer advertising options:

  • Target (via Roundel) (select sellers)
  • Costco
  • Overstock
  • Kroger (via 8451)

That’s a lot longer list than the big two of Google and Microsoft before it gets social with Facebook/Instagram, Pinterest (ecomm friendly-wise).

Granted, the volumes are top heavy with Amazon and Walmart – those are the two that are making significant investments in their advertising options to expand their operations.

But what interests me is that there is a natural desire to diversify budgets and now we either have to find more budget or steal it from elsewhere.

The Return of Traditional Advertising:

The current prediction (February 2019), according to eMarketer, is that traditional ad spending will drop slightly and digital will overtake traditional for the first time this year, ever.

emarketer-traditional

That being said, there are some new players to the traditional space we haven’t seen there before, specifically, startups and D2C brands that are looking for places and spaces to gain awareness and have been pushed out of the digital channels on price or saturation.

So…cutting budgets from traditional advertising, maybe not a great idea. In fact, you might want to spend more.

Get Ahead of the Rise of Advertising on Marketplaces:

I can’t tell you what to do exactly – or where to get the funds, that’s not how this works.

I can only give you what is coming:

  • More advertising options on marketplaces.
  • More silos to break down.

But here are a few things you can do, organizationally speaking, that will set you up for success to navigate this ever-expanding digital universe.

1. Retail Readiness:

This means being able to:

  • Compete on pricing, multiple fulfillment centers (or staffing the one appropriately) inventory intelligence (in-stock, quantities and decrementing) in an automated fashion.
  • Process returns, customer complaints, reviews and get those orders out the door. The new norm is two days.

Search folks aren’t often involved here – I get it, we sell the thing. But you need to start understanding this stuff, too.

If your .com conversion rates start dropping, slowly, over time and you haven’t been looking to see where else that item is sold…you might be losing sales to Amazon.

If the .com is listing a 7-day shipping window and the brand you’re working for set up FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) for that item and it has 2-day free shipping with Prime and for a lower price, guess where your conversion went? (Also, you might want to check out the Amazon Attribution beta, if that’s the case.)

2. Content & Creative:

Take advantage of the features and functionality that each platform offers – they built it that way for a reason.

Some reasons are better than others, but there are key differences in how they function (for example, Amazon product pages vs. Walmart product pages.)

Plus, having product content that is informative, helpful, customer-friendly, consistent and – well – pretty, causes conversions.

And product pages are crawled, indexed and totally show up in search results. Own that SERP all the way.

3. Internal Organization:

This is the number one “thing” I have seen collapse or stunt ecommerce efforts.

If the people in the organization are not incentivized to work outside their boxes within digital, then they won’t.

And if not incentivized, at least having the conversation, getting clear on roles and responsibilities and how those touch upon one another.

4. Process:

Piggybacking off the internal organization piece, if there is not a clear process for rolling out products on which platforms, price points and fulfillment, things get very messy, very fast.

5. Product:

Invest in the tools of the trade that enable growth. Or build it. Whatever.

(Or set fire to the proprietary tool/system that’s been in place since 2010 that requires that one dev guy to hold together, but he’s always busy and therefore is holding the business hostage. A true story, more than once, unfortunately.)

Ask for More:

Every year, search marketers get asked to do more – types of ads, targeting, new platforms, new markets, and often with the same tools and resources we had the year before.

In 2020, start asking for more in return to help you navigate and succeed in the expanding digital advertising universe.

For example – point of sale data.

If you’re at a brand or working for one that has brick and mortar stores, what are they doing or getting or could be getting that would be useful.

Some offline attribution would be great, but how about some location-based bidding, on category or product level?

Think about what is popular online: Is that because they can’t get it where they live? And is it bought in-store more elsewhere for those that live nearby vs. online?

Visualization – sure, you’re cool and have a spreadsheet with 20 tabs, 17 formulas, slicers and pivots that you’ve developed over the last two years.

It’s a nerd masterpiece – but face it, it’s the Matrix and you’re Neo. Not everyone can dodge bullets.

Equip yourself with software that makes your life easier and insights faster. Then, when the bullets start flying, you won’t even have to dodge them.

More than anything else though, plan on expansion. It’s happening. Get ahead of it now and own it, rather than it owning you.

More Resources:

Causes of High Bounce Rate (& How to Fix Them)

By | Website Design Advice

What Is Bounce Rate?

As a refresher, bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors that leave your website (or “bounce” back to the search results or referring website) after viewing only one page on your site.

Before you start worrying, consider that “high” is a relative term.

Most websites will see bounce rates between 26% to 70%, according to a RocketFuel study.

high_and_low_bounce_rate

Based on the data they gathered, they provided a bounce rate grading system of sorts:

  • 25% or lower: Something is probably broken
  • 26-40%: Excellent
  • 41-55%: Average
  • 56-70%: Higher than normal, but could make sense depending on the website
  • 70% or higher: Bad and/or something is probably broken

The overall bounce rate for your site will live in the Audience Overview tab of Google Analytics.

Audience-Overview-Bounce-Rate

You can find your bounce rate for individual channels and pages in the behavior column of most views in Google Analytics.

Landing-Pages-Bounce

There are a number of reasons your website can have a high bounce rate.

Let’s review 10 common ones and how to fix them.

1. Slow-to-Load Page:

Site speed is part of Google’s ranking algorithm, so it’s just good SEO to focus on it.

Google wants to promote content that provides a positive experience for users, and they recognize that a slow site can provide a poor experience.

If your page takes longer than a few seconds to load, your visitors may get fed up and leave.

Fixing site speed is a lifelong journey for most SEO pros and webmasters, but the upside is that with each incremental fix, you should see an incremental boost in speed.

Review your page speed (overall and for individual pages) using tools like:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Pingdom.
  • TMetrix.

They’ll offer you recommendations specific to your site, such as compressing your images, reducing third-party scripts, and leveraging browser caching.

2. Self-Sufficient Content:

In some cases, the user will get everything they were looking for from the page on your site.

This can be a wonderful thing – perhaps you’ve achieved the content marketer’s dream and created awesome content that wholly consumed them for a handful of minutes in their lives!

Or perhaps you have a landing page that only requires the user to complete a short lead form.

To determine whether bounce rate is nothing to worry about, you’ll want to look at the Time Spent on Page and Average Session Duration metrics in Google Analytics.

If the user is spending a couple of minutes or more on the page, that sends a positive signal to Google that they found your page highly relevant to their search query. If you want to rank for that particular search query, that kind of user intent is gold.

If the user is spending less than a minute on the page (which may be the case of a properly optimized landing page with a quick-hit CTA form), consider enticing the reader to read some of your related blog posts after filling out the form.

3. Disproportional Contribution by a Few Pages:

If we expand on the example from the previous section, you may have a few pages on your site that are contributing disproportionally to the overall bounce rate for your site. Google is savvy at recognizing the difference between these.

So if your single CTA landing pages reasonably satisfy user intent and cause them to bounce quickly after taking action, but your longer-form content pages have a lower bounce rate, you’re probably good to go.

However, you will want to dig in and confirm that this is the case or discover if some of these pages with a higher bounce rate shouldn’t be causing users to leave en masse.

Open up Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages, and sort by Bounce Rate.

Consider adding an advanced filter to remove pages that might skew the results.

For example, it’s not necessarily helpful to agonize over the one Twitter share with 5 visits that have all your social UTM parameters tacked onto the end of the URL.

My rule of thumb is to determine a minimum threshold of volume that is significant for the page.

Choose what makes sense for your site, whether it’s 100 visits or 1,000 visits, then click on Advanced and filter for Sessions greater than that.

Disproportional Contribution

4. Misleading Title Tag and/or Meta Description:

Ask yourself: Is the content of your page accurately summarized by your title tag and meta description?

If not, visitors may enter your site thinking your content is about one thing, only to find that it isn’t, and then bounce back to whence they came.

Whether it was an innocent mistake or you were trying to game the system by optimizing for keyword clickbait (shame on you!), this is, fortunately, simple enough to fix.

Either review the content of your page and adjust the title tag and meta description accordingly or rewrite the content to address the search queries you really want to attract visitors for.

5. Blank Page or Technical Error:

If your bounce rate is exceptionally high and you see that people are spending less than a few seconds on the page, it’s likely your page is blank, returning a 404, or otherwise not loading properly.

Take a look at the page from your audience’s most popular browser and device configurations (e.g., Safari on desktop and mobile, Chrome on mobile, etc.) to replicate their experience.

You can also check in Search Console under Coverage to discover the issue from Google’s perspective. Correct the issue yourself or talk to someone who can – an issue like this can cause Google to drop your page from the search results in a hurry.

google-search-console

6. Bad Link from Another Website:

It’s possible you could be doing everything perfect on your end to achieve a normal or low bounce rate from organic search results, and still have a high bounce rate from your referral traffic.

The referring site could be sending you unqualified visitors or the anchor text and context for the link could be misleading.

Sometimes this is a result of sloppy copywriting. The writer or publisher linked to your site in the wrong part of the copy, or didn’t mean to link to your site at all.

Start by reaching out to the author of the article, then the editor or webmaster if the author doesn’t have the ability to update post-publish.

Plead your case and politely ask them to remove the link to your site or update the context, whichever makes sense.

(Tip: you can easily find their contact information with this awesome guide by Joshua Daniels.)

Unfortunately, the referring website may be trying to sabotage you with some negative SEO tactics, out of spite or just for fun.

For example, they may have linked to your Guide to Adopting a Puppy with the anchor text of FREE GET RICH QUICK SCHEME.

You should still reach out and politely ask them to remove the link, but if needed, you’ll want to update your disavow file in Search Console.

Disavowing the link won’t reduce your bounce rate, but it will tell Google not to take that site’s link into account when it comes to determining the quality and relevance of your site.

7. Affiliate Landing Page or Single-Page Site:

If you’re an affiliate, the whole point of your page may be to deliberately send people away from your website to the merchant’s site.

In these instances, you’re doing the job right if the page has a higher bounce rate.

A similar scenario would be if you have a single-page website, such as a landing page for your ebook or a simple portfolio site.

It’s common for sites like these to have a very high bounce rate since there’s nowhere else to go.

Remember that Google can usually tell when a website is doing a good job satisfying user intent even if the user’s query is answered super quickly (sites like WhatIsMyScreenResolution.com come to mind).

If you’re interested, you can adjust your bounce rate so it makes more sense for the goals of your website.

8. Low-Quality or Under Optimized Content:

Visitors may be bouncing from your website because your content is just plain bad.

Take a long, hard look at your page and have your most judgmental and honest colleague or friend review it (ideally, this person either has a background in content marketing or copywriting, or they fall into your target audience).

One possibility is that your content is great, but you just haven’t optimized it for online reading.

  • Are you writing in simple sentences (think high school students vs. PhDs)?
  • Is it easily scannable with lots of header tags?
  • Have you included images to break up the copy and make it easy on the eyes?

Writing for the web is different than writing for written publications.

Brush up your online copywriting skills to increase the time people spend reading your content.

The other possibility is that your content is poorly written overall or simply isn’t something your audience cares about.

Consider hiring a freelance copywriter or content strategist who can help you revamp your ideas into powerful content that converts.

9. Bad or Obnoxious UX:

Are you bombarding people with ads, pop-up surveys, and email subscribe buttons?

CTA-heavy features like these may be irresistible to the marketing and sales team, but using too many of them can make a visitor run for the hills.

Is your site confusing to navigate?

Perhaps your visitors are looking to explore more, but your blog is missing a search box or the menu items are difficult to click on a smartphone.

As online marketers, we know our websites in and out. It’s easy to forget that what seems intuitive to us is anything but to our audience.

Make sure you’re avoiding these common design mistakes, and have a web or UX designer review the site and let you know if anything pops out to them as problematic.

10. The Page Isn’t Mobile-Friendly:

While we know it’s important to have a mobile-friendly website, the practice isn’t always followed in the real world.

In fact, one study found that nearly a quarter of the top websites in 2018 were indeed not mobile-friendly.

Websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile don’t look good on mobile devices – and they don’t load too fast, either. That’s a recipe for a high bounce rate.

Even if your website site was implemented using responsive design principles, it’s still possible that the live page doesn’t read as mobile-friendly to the user.

Sometimes, when a page gets squeezed into a mobile format, it causes some of the key information to move below-the-fold.

Now, instead of seeing a headline that matches what they saw in search, mobile users only see your site’s navigation menu.

Assuming the page doesn’t offer what they need, they bounce back to Google.

If you see a page with a high bounce rate and no glaring issues immediately jump out to you, test it on your mobile phone.

You can identify non-mobile-friendly pages at-scale using Google’s free Test My Site tool.

google-test-my-site-for-mobile-friendly

11. Wonky Google Analytics Setup:

It’s possible that you haven’t properly implemented Google Analytics and added the tracking codes to all the pages on your site.

Google explains how to fix that here.

5 Pro Tips for Reducing Your Bounce Rate:

Regardless of the reason behind your high bounce rate, here’s a summary of best practices you can implement to bring it down.

1. Make Sure Your Content Lives Up to the Hype:

Your title tag and meta description effectively act as your website’s virtual billboard in Google.

Whatever you’re advertising in the SERPs, your content needs to match.

Don’t call your page an ultimate guide if it’s a short post with three tips.

Don’t claim to be the “best” vacuum if your user reviews show a 3-star rating.

You get the idea.

Also, make your content readable:

  • Break up your text with lots of white space.
  • Add supporting images.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Spellcheck is your friend.

2. Keep Critical Elements Above the Fold:

Sometimes, your content matches what you advertise in your title tag and meta description; visitors just can’t tell at first glance.

When people arrive on a website, they make an immediate first impression.

You want that first impression to validate whatever they thought they were going to see when they arrived.

A prominent H1 should match the title they read on Google.

If it’s an ecommerce site, a photo should match the description.

3. Speed Up Your Site:

When it comes to SEO, faster is always better.

Keeping up with site speed is a task that should remain firmly stuck to the top of your SEO to-do list.

There will always be new ways to compress, optimize, and otherwise accelerate load time.

  • Implement AMP.
  • Compress all images before loading them to your site, and only use the maximum display size necessary.
  • Review and remove any external or load-heavy scripts, stylesheets, and plugins. If there are any you don’t need, remove them. For the ones you do need, see if there’s a faster option.
  • Tackle the basics: Use a CDN, minify JavaScript and CSS, and set up browser caching.

4. Minimize Non-Essential Elements:

Don’t bombard your visitors with pop-up ads, in-line promotions, and other content they don’t care about.

Visual overwhelm can cause visitors to bounce.

What CTA is the most important for the page?

Highlight that in a compelling way.

For everything else, delegate it to your sidebar or footer.

5. Help People Get Where They Want to Be Faster:

Want to encourage people to browse more of your site?

Make it easy for them.

Leverage on-site search with predictive search, helpful filters, and an optimized “no results found” page.

Rework your navigation menu and A/B test how complex vs. simple drop-down menus affect your bounce rate.

Include a Table of Contents in your long-form articles with anchor links taking people straight to the section they want to read.

Summary:

Hopefully, this article will help you diagnose what’s causing your high bounce rate, and you have a good idea how to fix it.

More Recourse:

PPC Trends

PPC Trends to Get Ready for in 2020

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Predicting the future is never easy:

Particularly in the world of PPC. Even with all the campaign data in the world, you don’t know the latest trends until they hit.

It’s a tough task staying on top of all the updates released by the likes of Google, Bing, and YouTube. It can be even harder to learn new things and quickly adapt to the changes.

Some of the changes involve:

  • Ad copy.
  • Smart bidding.
  • Average position.
  • Audiences.

As innovation in digital marketing continues to grow at an exponential rate, smart PPC pros need to keep up with the market.

Here are five trends you should be looking at in 2020 in order to stay ahead of the game.

1. Audience Segmentation:

Audience segmentation is based on taking a group of people who have interacted with you online – either on your website, your CRM database, through a YouTube channel or one of your other social media channels.

These people are then segmented based on:

  • What URLs they’ve visited on your website.
  • How they’ve interacted on your site (i.e., whether they’ve purchased).
  • What videos they’ve watched.

Then they’re placed into buckets that serve specific ads based on how they interacted with you.

This allows you to increase or decrease bids to make sure you’re more or less prominent to your audiences based on the value that they have on your business.

Although it seems very in-depth, this is still the most basic way to use audiences.

However, as we gather more and more data on our customers and audiences, we can begin to break them up into specific buckets and thereby making our messaging even more personalized and our bidding strategies more informed based on specific data points.

  • What type of user are they? Where did they leave your site? Did they purchase something?
  • What are your audiences interested in?
  • What age and gender are they?
  • What demographic group do they fall under?
  • Where are they searching and browsing for you or your products? What device are they on?
  • Are they coming from other websites? What keywords are they finding you through?
  • Where are they in their life? Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they angry?

The inclusion of specific data sets, as well as inferred emotional data, means that you can make your ads extremely bespoke to the people you want to target.

You can also identify exactly which type of person you should be spending your resources on to grow your business.

Make sure to create audience lists in Google Ads to leverage this opportunity.

How to Create an Audience List:

Step 1:  In the top right-hand corner of your Google Ads account, click the Tools & Settings icon. Navigate to the Shared Library column and then click Audience manager.

Create an Audience List

Step 2: In Audience manager, click on the blue circle with the plus sign to start creating a remarketing list.

Audience manager

Step 3: Once there, you’ll have a drop-down menu of where you actually want to create your list. You can either choose from:

  • Website visitors.
  • App users.
  • YouTube users.
  • Customer list from your CRM database.
  • Custom combination.

CRM database.

Step 4: In this step, you’ll actually create your list. First, you need to name your audience.

audience

Next, select the List members – the type of visitors from which you’d like to create an audience. You’ll then have to identify specific rules according to the type of visitors you choose.

Click on Create Audience once done.

Step 5: The final step is assigning your audience to a campaign or ad group.

campaign or ad group

On the left side of your Google Ads account, left click on Audiences. Once you’re in Audiences, click on the blue circle with a pencil inside.

You’ll then get the screen on the right where it says Edit audiences. Here, the first drop-down Add to – you can either choose Campaign or Group.

Once you’ve chosen which level you want, on the right-hand side you can then choose which campaigns or ad groups it actually goes into.

You then have two options:

  • Targeting: For narrowing the reach of your campaign to specific audiences, and get reports.
  • Observation: For getting reports on additional items without narrowing the reach of your campaign.

Click Save. Your audience list is now into your campaigns and ad groups.

So What Do You Need to Do?

  • Ensure you’ve created audience lists in Google Ads.
  • Use the data from visitors to your site to identify the most prominent and lucrative audience categories.
  • Begin creating more granular lists based on these criteria and create different campaigns and ad groups for each.
  • You should be maximizing your budget toward these audience-based campaigns.

2. Automation & Account Management

Automation has already started – but it’s going to be even more important in 2020.

We’re already seeing it in:

  • PPC optimization: Automating the ability to identify opportunities within your PPC account to make changes and improve performance and account hygiene.
  • PPC account management: Automating rules within your account to manage bidding and daily account management tasks.
  • That said, not enough automation is being used in the industry currently. Automating processes, such as bid management, can help marketers harness the power of automation.

Target CPA and ROAS are great examples of how this has been implemented already in day-to-day account execution.

And even if you’re reluctant to let go of manually managing your bids, then there are other areas where you can apply automation to.

A number of companies are emerging to knit together optimization across properties such as Albert, an AI tool that takes data from across all of your marketing activity and decides where investments should be focusing.

Moment marketing tools such as Mporium will allow marketers to automate changes to the campaigns based on triggers from third-party sources such as TV, social media content, weather, and even stock market changes.

What Will Be Different in 2020?

In 2020, there will be an even bigger light shined on marketing performance, with clients and businesses requiring more data analysis, reporting, planning, and servicing.

With more businesses advertising online, it will become more difficult to cut through the clutter.

There will also be a higher prominence of automation tools to help you with optimization, daily tasks, reporting, project and account management.

What Should You Be Doing About It?

  • There are plenty of ways to leverage automation in paid search:
  • Use scripts in Google and Bing to automate account management alerts and changes.
  • Invest in optimization servicing tools (OSTs), such as Adzooma, Search Squared or GOA.
  • Use bidding rules to manage the performance of your campaigns.
  • Set up alerts across all your activities to inform you of major changes.
  • Set up automated reporting, reduce manual reporting time.
  • Spend more time analyzing your data and audiences to deliver the best experience for your customers.
  • Test Smart Campaigns in Google Ads to hit your target KPIs.

3. Voice Search

ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

So what does this mean for PPC?

This means that the search terms that trigger ads to appear are going to change as people interact in a more conversational way with their voice-enabled devices.

Obviously, we’re still quite a long way away from seeing paid search within voice.

That said, it would be beneficial to:

  • Start using more conversational and long-tail terms in your keyword targeting.
  • Make sure your landing pages are more conversational as well for both the UX and for SEO reasons.
  • Test and learn more long-tail terms in 2020, measure the impressions and impression share on them, as well as the CTR and CVR.

4. Visual Search

Search is becoming more visual. Now, you can upload an image to a search engine and use the engine to find you relevant results based on other images similar to the one you uploaded.

Surprisingly, this development first came from the social media world with Pinterest releasing its first visual search tool in 2015. They have since refined their visual discovery tools with the introduction of Pinterest Lens in 2017.

Other social channels such as Instagram and Snapchat followed suit, allowing users to search with images.

Last year, Snapchat announced a Visual Search partnership with Amazon which allows users to search products on Amazon straight from the Snapchat camera.

So what does this mean for PPC?

Bing has also released its own visual search engine which allows people to do the same thing but use their entire index of the web as their source of information – much of the info that is on a retail site or social network platform.

So What Do You Need to Get Ready For?

Preparing for the growth of visual search now will make it easier for people to find you in the future. You should:

  • Start thinking about images that showcase your offering on your website.
  • Ensure they have the correct ALT text on them so the SERPs can pick them up.
  • Ensure you’re using the best images to showcase your products or services.
  • Use multiple images where possible so the SERPs have a choice of what to index.

5. PPC & SEO Integration

The relationship between PPC and SEO will be an important area to address moving forward. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, yet they can be used together to maximize your results.

In 2020, make an effort to integrate PPC and SEO through:

  • Keyword unearthing.
  • Efficient position strategy.
  • Data and information sharing.
  • Increased SERP coverage.

What’s the Best Way to Do This?

  • Use PPC data to inform SEO of the most viable and profitable keywords to target for organic ranking boosts.
  • Use SEO ranking data alongside PPC bidding to identify which keywords you should be paying for and which ones you shouldn’t.
  • Use PPC copy data to help identify the best messaging to use for meta data in SEO.
  • Use PPC advertising alongside SEO organic listings to make your brand more prominent on the SERP against competitors.

Bonus: Attribution Measurement Will Be Your KPI in 2020

Attribution is key to understanding the true value of your PPC spend. Make sure to use Google Analytics or other analytics tools to measure the direct and indirect effect of your target keywords on your overall business.

The Amazon SEO Game Plan

By | Networking Bizz News, seo advice for business

Effective SEO can help you stand above the noise on Amazon. Crafting the perfect keywords without misleading your customers and making your descriptions informative, readable and optimized for mobile experiences will go a long way in helping your products become big winners on Amazon.

It’s no secret that nearly half of all consumers now begin their product searches on Amazon. And, one of the many reasons Amazon has dominated is because its algorithm ensures that shoppers are shown a comprehensive list of highly relevant products from their search queries, leading to increased purchase rates and stronger sales.

There is a massive opportunity for growth on Amazon as it continues to take over the online retail space. SEO can make or break a seller in the marketplace. Tighter margins on Amazon mean that a paid search strategy alone will not suffice. As consumers are challenged by a “paradox of choice,” you, the seller, must quickly figure out the right game plan in order to break through the noise organically.
Amazon displays products with the strongest SEO according to its algorithm. If your product is not seeing the rankings you anticipated, you might need to amend your approach to your listings. In order to do so successfully, consider the following best practices.

Amazon SEO Play #1: Keywords are Key

One of the most important features of strong SEO is a straightforward title with important keywords placed up front. Your product’s title should describe exactly what it is, who made it an important key features in order of importance. For example, a title for a 16-fluid ounce bottle of organic shampoo by the Natural Shampoo Brand would look something like this:

Natural Hair Brand – Organic Shampoo, 16 fl oz, argan oil, sulfate-free, moisturizing

One of the most important features of strong SEO is a straightforward title with important keywords placed up front.

When crafting your title, it is critical to remember that shoppers are humans. As such, the title should include the keywords needed to catch the algorithm but should also make sense to the person reading it. Since including a lot of information in one title can get messy, it is perfectly acceptable to use punctuation like dashes and commas for easier readability.

In the event not all of your desired keywords fit into one title or description, you can put them in the back-end of your product listing. Just log into your Seller Central account and insert keywords into the five different sections, including target audience, subject matter, and search terms. Your customers won’t see it, but the algorithm will be more likely to pick up your product. This is a good place to enter keywords that might be associated with your product but aren’t high-volume enough for the description on the front end.

Also, remember that some products have multiple uses. For example, baby powder can be used to get grease stains out of clothes, so you might use keywords like “degreaser” or “stain remover” in the back-end. Each keyword section in your Seller Central account can take up to 200 words, so take advantage of it. One crucial point to keep in mind when you’re threading keywords throughout your product listing is not to misrepresent your product. Not only could this leave you with bad reviews, but you could also be banned from selling on Amazon. If you list your product as “giant inflatable pool toy,” it better be huge.

Amazon SEO Play #2: A Good Description Goes a Long Way

When filling in your product’s description, make sure to do so in order of importance. The most crucial information should come first, and it should have strong keywords right at the beginning. A description with strong keywords is more likely to be picked up by the algorithm but remember the human element. Make sure the description is well-written and makes sense. Describe how the product can be used, how it feels and how it works.

This is especially important for apparel items, linens and other products shoppers traditionally like to view in stores. Another pivotal section of the product listing is key features. This is your chance to get the main idea or purpose of your product out in a few concise sentences. Like the description, you will want to prioritize in order of importance. Put keywords in each bullet point and keep sentences short. You don’t need to worry about proper punctuation—but make sure sentences are still easily readable.

Considering more Amazon shoppers are moving to mobile, you will want your description and bullet points to cater to a mobile setting. Long descriptions and bullet points are often cut off on mobile, so make sure to put the most important information at the top of each section.

Amazon SEO Play #3: The Visual is Pivotal

We live in a visual world and your product listings should be no different. Amazon requires you to have at least one picture to display your product. The main product picture must also meet Amazon’s standards, including a pure white background and a minimum of 1000 pixels. While one image is the minimum to post a listing, providing several other pictures for customers to look through helps them get a better understanding of your product and helps you stand out from the competition.

Close-up images that show the details of the product and the product in the context of its intended use are both encouraged—the product should take up 80-85% of the space in the image. Including a video of the product in use is also a good way to connect with audiences.

When it comes to selling on Amazon, standing above the noise can be attainable by adding a few new plays to your SEO game plan. Crafting the perfect keywords without misleading your customers and making your descriptions informative, readable and optimized for mobile experiences will go a long way in helping your products become big winners in the world of Amazon.

Trends Shaping E-commerce In 2019

By | Online Entrepreneur News

Building a strong commerce experience for customers, particularly online, has never been more critical. If a customer has a great experience with a brand app, that becomes the new benchmark which they expect, even demand, from every other brand touchpoint they have moving forward.

Evolving an e-commerce strategy in 2019 means understanding the top shopping trends across the media and advertising landscape: their potential audience reach today and tomorrow, their maturity and what brands will have to do to take full advantage. Take a look at the top seven trends that are likely to notably impact how businesses plan their e-commerce strategy over the coming year.

Trend 1: Voice commerce

Growth in voice-controlled purchasing, fuelled by Alexa.

Currently, only 2% of global Alexa users report using v-commerce tools regularly, with most looking for ongoing deals and monitoring order status via voice instead. This is because we typically like to see imagery of products before we buy them, and the extent of smart speaker functionality is difficult to know without trial and error.

But as screens are added to smart speakers and the experience is fine-tuned, transactions via voice are expected to grow significantly, generating sales worth $40bn by 2022 as against $2bn in 2018. Brands need to optimise their voice strategy to include relevant purchase, payment, delivery and re-order information. That will ensure organic visibility, deliver a strong user experience and drive sales from voice interactions.

Trend 2: Experiential commerce

Using Augmented Reality (AR) technology to bring products to life in a more immersive way, connecting through to transaction.

The aim of experiential strategies is to connect digital to physical, providing a differentiated and unique consumer experience as well as gathering valuable data that can be used to customize future interactions.

Research has suggested that 70% of consumers are expecting retailers to launch an AR app within the next six months, and 40% say they would pay more for a product they can experience through AR. On top of AR itself, brands can utilize a variety of technologies to enhance in-store or online commerce experiences, ranging from smart mirrors and image recognition to live streaming and virtual reality.

Trend 3: Democratisation of product

Products personalized by brand ‘super fans’ who share, promote and sell to their peers.

Brands are inviting their biggest fans to have a deeper connection and be more involved through owned apps and private social media environments, and sometimes even to create new lines of products.

 

This can enable peer-to-peer commerce with special editions, like the Xbox Franchise model that recently saw custom controller sales increase by 350%. Brands should consider how they can activate their biggest fans to help pioneer new product development and be part of the influential marketing mix.

 

Trend 4: Retail 2.0

Traditional bricks and mortar are expanding online while online giants like Alibaba & Amazon buy into physical space.

New age online marketplaces are approaching physical stores quite differently to traditional retail. Fuelled by data and technology, in-store experiences are becoming customised, purposeful and immersive.

The idea is to provide a multi-sensory experience for consumers, getting hands-on with high quality relevant products, aided by knowledgeable sales staff and fulfilled on the spot or via the online convenience provided by their platforms. Brands need to consider the strength of their reviews and first customer experiences with products, in order to ensure visibility on the new shelf.

Trend 5: Subscription everything

Consumer brands position themselves as a ‘lifestyle’ service as well as a product.

In an effort to build a stronger relationship with consumers and capture mounds of rich data, subscription models are arising in previously unexpected categories, ranging from Nespresso and Threadbox to Uber and Just Eat.

These models allow consumers to forgo large upfront hardware costs, protecting against price fluctuation or saving on recurring purchases, and we expect these services to continue to expand to more categories like video games, apparel, and child and baby items. Brands may need to rethink their business models to understand what products could be more profitable and relevant when sold as a subscription.

 

Trend 6: Connected commerce

Every touchpoint links through to another personalized purchase opportunity.

With the rise of connected data sources and more sophisticated analytics, omnichannel marketing has become a key focus of many leading global brands. Three-quarters (73%) of consumers are using multiple channels to do their shopping, and those interacting with an omnichannel experience spend 4% more in-store and 10% more online. A cohesive journey across channel and devices can significantly increase ROI.

Brands should develop connected consumer journeys, understanding all available touch-points in the owned, earned, shared, paid ecosystem to deliver personalized experiences that are shoppable at any moment.

Trend 7: End-to-end social

Users can discover, research and complete a purchase without ever leaving their social feed.

While ‘Buy Now’ buttons are nothing new in social media environments, 2018 saw shoppable ‘tagged’ posts explode, with Instagram reporting that 41% of brands advertising on the platform had tried the new format.

Social platforms continue to create engaging ad formats that blend high-quality brand content (especially video) with shoppable features. So in 2019, brands should utilise new catalogue-like formats and curated product lists to drive purchase objectives, often fulfilled via third parties, all within the social platform.

Streamline YouTube SEO Optimization With These Tools

By | seo advice for business

With video streaming services and social media platforms reporting large amounts of traffic, videos are slowly but surely moving front and center as the most popular form of online content. Plus, they are made more accessible by the widespread use of mobile devices and the growing average speed of Internet connectivity.

Look no further than sites like Twitch and YouTube to understand how powerful videos can be at keeping people glued to their screens. As a matter of fact, according to YouTube, U.S. residents aged 18-34 watch more videos on mobile devices than they do on any TV broadcast or cable network.

Bearing this in mind, performing video optimization has never been as important as it is today. To get more eyeballs looking at your videos, you must do your best to ensure that people can find your videos online and that they choose to watch your video over the vast pool of competition.

Getting yourself noticed on YouTube can be quite a daunting challenge, but in this post, we’ve rounded up some of the best tools that can help you optimize your YouTube videos for SEO.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

One of the most crucial parts of producing videos is getting everything ready even before the camera starts rolling. The bulk of the work is actually done during the video pre-production or planning stage. After all, you can’t create a great video without laying out a plan first, right?

Conducting keyword research

Knowing what topics are popular and what colloquial terms are used most to find videos is imperative to the success of your digital video marketing strategy. By creating videos around a specific target keyword, you’ll have a much better chance of getting ranked higher on the YouTube SERP.

YouTube autocomplete

You’ve probably noticed that YouTube suggests certain keywords and phrases as you type a query into the search box:

What makes the Autocomplete feature so great is that it’s free and only puts popular keywords forward. Basically, YouTube points out for you the terms people use most to find videos. From the standpoint of YouTube SEO, your videos should be optimized around these suggested keywords.

Above you can see that YouTube suggests several other keywords along with the initial query. Each suggestion can be a great idea for a video topic, but they are awesome long-tail keywords as well. Besides being popular, long-tail keywords are also not very competitive, and, hence, are easier to get ranked for.

Analyzing yours and your competitors’ channels

You have enough on your plate managing your channel as it is, but the only way to know which direction to go or what you need to do to get better results is to scrutinize all of your channel’s existing data and compare it to that of your main rivals.

Of course, there are also a number of tools that can help you dissect your channel and get to know everything about the channels you’re going up against.

YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytics is the best place to learn what’s working on your channel and what’s not. This free, easy-to-use but comprehensive tool can tell you who watches your videos and what they like to watch, plus it can help you figure out which videos can produce more income.

This solution enables you to perform a detailed analysis of your channel and each separate video, providing you with real-time reports, view count, ratio of likes and dislikes, as well as viewer demographics.

YouTube Analytics offers three key report categories to work with: Revenue, Watch time, and Engagement — make sure to explore all of them for maximum results. On top of that, these categories are complemented by real-time and Overview sections. To take advantage of the tool, you must start uploading videos so that the system has some data to work with to boost your performance.

Snagging competitor tags

To dig a bit deeper into your competition, take a look at the tags they use to get their videos noticed by YouTube. Not only do tags help you get ranked for the target keyword, but they can also help you show up as a related video in YouTube’s sidebar when someone watches a video with a similar tag.

Although tags are initially hidden on YouTube, they can be viewed through the page’s HTML code. To do this, right-click on the page and go to “View Page Source.” Then search for the word “keywords” on the page. Everything that goes after it is the video’s tags! But if HTML is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of tools that will help you out.

TagsForYouTube

YouTube decided to hide video tags from the public eye many years ago. With the free Tags for YouTube Chrome extension, YouTube tags are returned to their original position.

To view what tags are attached to a video, simply click “show more” right under the description of the video. No sidebars, overlays or layers of data — bare tags only. It’s not a powerful tool regarding analytics, but it does save you the hassle of looking up tags via HTML.

If you want to have a simple way of seeing just the tags of YouTube videos without any additional analytical information, this tool is exactly what you need.

TagsYouTube

Unlike the previous tool that simply allows you to spy on your competitors’ tags, this free solution can generate tag based on the target keyword.

The free version of the TagsYouTube tool enables you to get a list of tags related to your target keyword, select the ones you like, and add them to the final list of tags. You can then add another keyword and add those tags to your final list of tags as well. Continue adding keywords until you get a list of tags you are happy with.

Besides generating tags, this service also offers features such as Advanced Title, Description, Thumbnail Generator, as well as practical tips and advice on how to best optimize your videos for YouTube.

RapidTags

Just as the name suggests, this free tool can quickly generate tags. One of the great things about RapidTags is that you can apply a language filter as you perform a search to get tags for different localities.

The workflow is pretty straightforward: enter your target query into the search box and the tool will generate relevant tags which you can then copy to YouTube.

You can then further analyze the target query to find out its traffic details like how many views, likes, dislikes and comments it currently has. RapidTags also shows the estimated number of views and engagement signals — such as likes — required for your video to rank for the target query.

Now that you’ve done all the preparatory work around your video and have recorded it, you need to add some finishing touches before it’s ready to go public.

Creating a thumbnail

Book covers and film posters give us an idea of what we can expect from a book or a movie, respectively. Video thumbnails serve the same purpose: they give people a rough understanding of what they’ll see in a video if they watch it. Therefore, before uploading your video to YouTube, create a high-quality custom thumbnail using a professional tool.

Canva

Canva is a leading graphic design tool that is perfect for creating beautiful thumbnails for YouTube videos. It’s easy to use, even if you’re not a designer.

It should be noted that this tool is not exclusively used for creating thumbnails — Canva can also be engaged in a number of other design-related tasks such booklets, presentations, sales pitches and so forth. It offers over a million fonts, graphics, photos and templates for you to choose from, as well as the option to upload images from your collections.

In terms of making thumbnails, Canva is packed with a plethora of free stock photos, backgrounds, texts, shapes, illustrations, and much more, making it a great solution. Moreover, you can use this tool free of charge on computers, Android and iOS devices, with the exception of several paid features and elements.

FotoJet

Another powerful free web graphic designer, photo editor, and collage maker tool is FotoJet. With this solution, creating amazing YouTube thumbnails is a walk in the park.

What makes this graphic design tool stand out is the fact that it puts more focus on creating amazing thumbnails for YouTube — not just general design features. With more than 500 templates for collages, FotoJet is a great resource for producing various graphics for YouTube, including video thumbnails.

The best part of this tool is the advanced thumbnail creator tool. It lets you make all sorts of fine adjustments to your creations — rotate images, add filters, crop or resize them. Also, similar to Canva, FotoJet’s drag-and-drop interface provides for an intuitive and hassle-free user experience.

Optimizing the video

Before you decide to upload your video to YouTube, you may want to polish it off and add finishing touches by running it through an editing tool. Luckily, there’s a variety of video optimization tools that can show you new ways of improving your videos, and fast-track the process.

iMovie

If you’re a greenhorn when it comes to editing YouTube videos and want to use only native apps on your Mac — give iMovie a try.

With this intuitive video editing software, you are free to trim, crop and rearrange sections of your video whichever way you like. Plus, the tool allows you to fix shaky videos, insert titles, throw in great visual effects and manage the video’s audio files.

One of the cool things about iMovie is that it supports 4K and HD videos, which is great news for those of us who record videos on GoPro cameras, iPhones, and other modern quality cameras. Moreover, the tool lets you easily upload and publish such high-definition videos to Facebook, Vimeo and, of course, YouTube.

So, if you’re still learning the ropes of video editors, this tool is perfect for getting started.

Blender

A free video editing tool that is more advanced than the previous option is Blender. Not only does it offer features that allow you to use the tool for 3D, VFX, rendering, animation, modeling, and even creating video games, it also enables you to trim videos, apply all sorts of filters and transitions — just what YouTubers need.

With Blender, you can add as many image, audio and video files to a video’s timeline as you want and edit them as you see fit on Mac, Windows or Linux devices. Blender also visualizes waveforms and allows users to mix audio files, which makes for a creative experience. Also, you can take advantage of the tool’s histogram displays, live preview, vectorscope features, and so much more.

It should be noted that due to this tool’s complexity, it may take you some time to figure out all of its ins and outs to yield the best results.

With almost two weeks’ worth of video content being added to YouTube every single minute, finding hundreds of videos on any given topic is a piece of cake. However, if not promoted the right way, your video just won’t be found. By making use of specialized tools, you can ensure that you get the kind of stats that are only obtained by top players in the YouTube game. If you’re doing video SEO, regular video ranking check-ups via position tracking tools are a prerequisite for the success of your YouTube channel. Such check-ups can tell you who you’re competing with and enable you to adjust your video marketing campaign accordingly.

SE Ranking

SE Ranking has a top-notch keyword tracking tool that can be used to get accurate data, detailed reports, and analysis. Along with the keyword tracking tool the platform offers a bunch of other useful features that help you perform more tasks.

The keyword rank checker tool specifically can run daily checks on Google, Yahoo and YouTube rankings for any location and device. It conveniently shows the daily ranking changes expressed in figures as well as graphs and specifies the URL for each ranking position. Also, you can set a target URL for each query, and all non-target URL positions will be highlighted in red.

The tech behind the tool collects data by simulating how users with no browsing history would behave for the selected target location and provides a cached copy if you want to verify the data for yourself.

Besides tracking rankings on five search engines and locations, you are free to track up to 5 competitors from your industry and get accurate, competitive intelligence on them. Moreover, the tool enables you to track the TOP 100 results for any search query — check how positions have changed over a specific period for any keyword or search engine from your project.

YTRank

YTRank is a very simple free tool that was designed with one goal in mind: to track the YouTube video ranking position for a specific keyword.

Once you access their website, all you have to do is select the country where you get most of your traffic from, enter the URL of your YouTube video and add up to 6 keywords you want to check positions for.

Then just scroll down to see which page and on what position your keyword is currently located on. It’s as simple as that.

Getting more eyes looking at your videos is incredibly important to the success of your video marketing campaigns, and social media platforms are perfect resources to execute on that. Here are some of the tools that can help you spread the word about your video far and wide.

DrumUp

The process of promoting YouTube videos involves making them easy to find for viewers. DrumUp is a paid tool that enables you to schedule the promotion of your videos on various social networks.

With DrumUp, you can add your social media accounts from Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, and communicate with your target social audiences from one easy-to-access platform.

Once you authenticate your social profiles, you will be able to see a preview of your social posts before making them public online. Customize your messages that promote your videos with a simple, intuitive social auto-posting solution.

HootSuite

Another social media management service that enables companies to perform social marketing activities is HootSuite. This paid tool aims to take communication to the next level and empowers companies to foster relationships with clients — not just send generic messages.

The tool’s dashboard provides tabs for each social account that’s connected to the app. Modern social media goes beyond posting messages and includes providing support, offering exclusive deals, and encouraging customers to make repeat purchases.

Hootsuite makes managing several profiles at the same time effortless. The advanced options are not free but with some extra investment, you get advanced social analytics, security, audience engagement and multiple users.

eClincher

eClincher is another fully-featured paid social media management tool that makes it easy to oversee and manage your social presence. This solution’s toolset includes an intelligent social dashboard, content curation, keyword tracking, analytics, publishing and automation, a unified social inbox, and a bunch of other useful options.

Manage, set up, schedule and publish content (including YouTube videos) on all your social profiles from a single location with eClincher. If a certain piece of content is performing well, eClincher will let you know and you’ll be able to use it again for more effective engagement on the social channels that haven’t seen that piece of content yet.

This social tool can lend you a hand in finding hot relevant content from the web and instantly adding it to your feed. Since the tool can determine what content will be appreciated by your audience, this feature can boost the performance of your social media profiles.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re getting more social media comments and questions than you can physically handle? Social comments are the modern-day version of business reviews and are vitally important to your brand. Good thing many tools can help you stay on top of all your social engagements.

YouTube comment moderation

YouTube has its own content moderation tool that gives you the possibility to customize the settings that will automatically filter out inappropriate comments, leaving only engaging comments in place.

To configure the settings that define what comments can appear, you need to go to the Creator Studio and access the Community settings.

There, you can add users to enable their comments to be approved automatically. You can also view the comments left by users marked as ‘hidden’. Moreover, by entering a list of words you want to block, comments that match or closely match the specified words will be put aside for human review. Additionally, mark the checkbox next to the Block links option to hold back new comments and live chat messages with hashtags and URLs. Last but not least, configure the basic settings regarding comments on your videos, channel and live chat before hitting ‘Save’.

As for the comments themselves, go to Comments section to view the comments that are public, those that have been held for review, and those that are considered to be spam by YouTube. This is where you can decide which comments deserve to be visible on your comments feed, but it will, unfortunately, require doing a lot of manual work. There are, however, some solutions that ease up the load.

TubeBuddy

TubeBuddy is a free browser extension that equips you with multiple tools that help you manage your YouTube channel. No need to switch between your channel and external tools to see the data — all the tools are added on top of YouTube’s interface.

Being a popular solution, TubeBuddy is full of useful tools and has quite a few ways of helping you moderate your comments.

First off, when working directly within the YouTube comments page, TubeBuddy gives you the option to filter comments: those you haven’t replied to, those that need a follow-up reply, those with positive or negative sentiments, or questions. That way you can easily find out where you need to interact more and learn what your viewers are talking about.

Canned responses is another helpful tool that allows creating quick go-to answers to popular viewer comments. Once you’ve prepared your short replies, you can select one right next to a user comment under the video, saving loads of time on creating messages anew.

The last comment-related TubeBuddy tool that deserves mention is the word cloud. The cloud contains the most used words from your comments, those that stand out for your channel and give you a quick insight into the general tone of voice of your channel.

Smart Moderation

A paid tool that provides comment moderation for social media platforms is SmartModeration. It’s designed to remove profane comments and protect your reputation on the web on autopilot in real time.

Most automated comment moderation tools solely rely on lists of keywords to understand what’s written in comments. In turn, YouTube has its own tools that look to keyword blacklists and algorithms to filter out spammy comments. However, this tool only puts them aside for human review without deleting them.

This is where Smart Moderation comes in. This tool connects to your social profiles on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and deletes unwanted comments the moment they are posted. On top of that, the tool’s machine learning AI removes such comments very accurately — like a human would. This feature makes this solution stand out because it understands words like humans. Plus its intelligence engine can be trained as you continue using the service.

Finally, the software supports multiple languages and can, therefore, be used by content producers from all over the planet to protect their audience and content.

There is little doubt that video content is a must-have component of any marketing strategy. Good thing we have YouTube that gives everyone the amazing opportunity to attract new audiences, encourage engagement and growth, as well as boost overall customer conversions.

By making the most of the tools listed in this article, you can get miles ahead of your competitors and get higher rankings on YouTube’s SERP.

The Biggest SEO Trends Of 2019

By | Online Entrepreneur News, seo advice for business

SEO strategy with components for successful marketing as icons on cubes on wooden backgroundGETTY

How will the world of search engine optimization change in 2019? What new trends will emerge, what old trends will die, and which trends will continue in the next year?

SEO is in constant motion, always changing to the point where it’s difficult to keep up with everything.

In this blog post, we’re going to go over some of the biggest SEO trends to be tracking in 2019.

Voice Search Begins Its Rule

Voice search is clearly growing in popularity – and at a very rapid rate, too. In fact, I feel like in a couple of years, we’re all going to hear “Ok, Google” all around us every few minutes. By 2020, the experts believe that 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

The number of people who use voice assistants is actually growing year by year, at a very rapid rate; for example, 35.6 million Americans use a voice activated device at least once a month, and one in six Americans now own smart speakers.

While it’s true that the world of search engines and SEO is constantly changing and evolving, the increase in voice search usage is one of the biggest changes yet. That’s because it’s something completely different and it requires a completely different optimization strategy

Think of it this way: there’s one way you’d search for something on Google (the regular website) and one way to ask about something.  “You got to realize, the questions they’re going to ask are going to be a bit different,” explains Stone Temple’s Eric Enge in an episode of the Sure Oak podcast, “and it’s going to create a need for our content that we’re returning – be it either via web page or a return voice interaction – to be prepared to answer those more natural language queries.”

It’s also important to note that Google prefers short answers to voice search queries: the typical result is about 29 words on average.

Even more interestingly, there looks to be a very big connection between voice search optimization and Google’s featured snippets – those short answers you sometimes get above all other results, that have position zero in SERPs.

Mobile-first Indexing As A Work In Progress

Back in March 2018, Google finally started rolling out the so-called mobile-first indexing. A change that many might say has been a long time coming: after all, mobile devices now account for nearly 60% of all traffic and that number is only going to grow.

But what exactly does mobile-first indexing mean for SEOs and web designers? And when can the “voice search index” be expected?

The mobile-first index is less than a year old, so it’s difficult to say where exactly it’s going to head. But what is clear is how important speed is, as well as how important it is to build a truly responsive website, one that not only is fully functional on mobile devices but also one that moves very quickly.

Building better mobile websites and creating better user experiences for visitors using mobile devices is imperative. Because while it’s not clear exactly what is coming up next for mobile-first indexing, what is clear know, based on the Google’s past, is that it’s all about offering your audience websites that are easy to use and navigate, that offer a good user experience and that move fast.

Blockchain Technology Impacts SEO and SEM

Blockchain might be mostly associated with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general, but blockchain’s influence will be much more far-reaching than that.

And not surprisingly, it’s also going to reach and impact search engine optimization, if not digital marketing in general. But how exactly can it influence SEO in a meaningful way?

Blockchain, in short, aims to create a secure and trustworthy record of transactions.

And it can be used to secure the transactions happening on search engines too – the connections between advertisers and website owners. Google, in this sense, is the middleman between the advertiser and website owner, helping them trust each other so that all of these transactions will run smoothly.

But that is exactly what blockchain does, by definition – only a bit more effectively. Blockchain can verify that every user is who they say they are, with 100% accuracy.

It can see whether an ad was viewed by an actual real person and not a bot. It can help you make sure that website owner only pay for genuine click-throughs to their website. And even more so, all of this will help reduce online ads fraud.

This, of course, will not only impact Google’s ad revenue, but it is also likely to impact SEO in general. Microsoft – and other big companies – are already collaborating with blockchain-based identity systems Blockstack Labs and ConsenSys to help improve apps and services

The Rise of Amazon Search Optimization

It’s difficult to see how Amazon Search can ever compete with Google – after all, it’s hard to see oneself searching for “how to remove carpet stains” on Amazon – but it’s actually a huge competitor. Many SEO specialists are expecting a huge growth in Amazon Search Optimization in the coming year.

Not convinced? Well, to start with, 72% of shoppers now use Amazon to find products, based on a study from Kenshoo across consumers in the US, Germany, UK, and France.

What’s even more interesting is that they also found that 56% of consumers actually search on Amazon first before they go looking at other sites. Plus, they don’t just find products – they find everything they need that they would otherwise need Google for: product reviews, similar product suggestions, and all kinds of other products that you might be interested in. In other words, they really don’t need another search engine to find what they need or want to buy, as well as do some proper research before making a purchasing decision.

And that is definitely a pretty big threat to Google and Google Ads. If fewer people are googling for products, that can have a big impact on its advertising and revenue.

And when it comes to actually making purchases, people favour Amazon because if its convenience, prices and ease of shipping, according to the latest data from BigCommerce’s Global Omni-Channel Consumer Shopping Research Report.

Conclusion

There are a lot of changes happening in the digital world right now, including in the world of search engine optimization. It’s an exciting – if also a little scary – time. It might not be clear what the future will bring exactly, but it’s clear that emerging and older technologies are starting to have a huge impact on SEO – if it’s not already happening, then at the very least it’s bound to happen soon.

Should Facebook Still Be A Part Of Your Social Media Marketing in 2019?

By | seo advice for business

New Year, new you! Many small businesses are trying to decide on their social media marketing in 2019 in the hopes of increasing sales and foot traffic on their websites. Marketing for most small businesses is often not a priority, but it should be. How else will people learn about your product or services? Word of mouth? Well, that might have worked 15 or 20 years ago, but does not work now. Today’s audience does not “talk” to each other; they text, chat and wave to each other online.

Small businesses can compete in the social media realm so long as they have a strategy.

Despite the ongoing investigation delving into Zuckerburg’s situation, for the first time in social media history, Facebook is in the number three spot for social networksjust behind YouTube and Google. Facebook still has 1.47 billion people logging in daily with more than 70% in the United States. Therefore, Facebook is still a safe and lucrative place to put your marketing dollars.

So, where do you start with your marketing strategy? Our suggestion is Facebook, YouTube, and Direct Mail Marketing, otherwise known as cross-channel marketing.

THE REAL DEAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING IN 2019

Facebook

Facebook is still a great place for your brand to get discovered. More people go to Facebook first for research and recommendations than any other social media outlet. Paid ads are a great way to get discovered, if you know your target demographics and use the audience selection features to ensure you are reaching your potential customers. It’s also cost-effective with a great ROI.

YouTube

YouTube recently surpassed Facebook as the number one social network. Creating video content is a critical part of your marketing strategy. Not just video, but mobile-optimized video is crucial for brand awareness. There is nothing more frustrating to our mobile hungry younger generation than a video that doesn’t load or is not clear in the size screen they want to view it on. Slow-loading video is a quick way to lose potential customers.

Marketing is an ever-changing beast. Your market reach is no longer determined by zip codes. Social media is your marketing stage. Consider the numbers — two out of three shoppers online have purchased something from a business in another country. Does this mean we abandon the local SEO? Of course not, it actually means you have to work harder to get found because it’s not just what’s local. It’s more about convenience. Many of these studies have noted that people are willing to pay more if getting the product or using the service makes life easier for them.

So, how to appeal to the local market? Consider direct mail campaigns. This cross-channel marketing method helps you connect with your local customer in a familiar but new way. Here’s to yet another year for your success!

 

Mobile Commerce On The Rise

By | Networking Bizz News

Smartphones’ share of US online retail sales, excluding apps, climbed to 31.8% in Q3 2018, according to a report from Criteo.

That marks a 14% year-over-year (YoY) increase in share, while tablets’ share dropped 12% YoY and laptops’ and desktops’ fell 5% YoY. This demonstrates the growing importance of mobile, and specifically smartphones, to both the present and future of US e-commerce.

While mobile commerce (m-commerce) is on the rise in the US, it already accounts for most sales in several other countries. M-commerce made up 40% of sales in the US in Q3 2018, excluding apps, a notable increase from its 35% share a year prior.

However, it holds a 50% or higher share in nine other countries, with Sweden leading the way at 60%, and m-commerce has a larger share in 18 countries than it does in the US. So, although retailers and brands may be bolstering their mobile capabilities to take advantage of m-commerce’s growing importance in the US, it’s even more important that they invest in the area in other countries, or they’ll disappoint consumers using the popular channel.

Leveraging the smartphone’s omnichannel capabilities can allow retailers to maximize its value. Only 7% of consumers shopped online and in-store for a product, but that small contingent accounted for 27% of sales made in Q3. Retailers need to provide omnichannel tools and experiences to capitalize on this opportunity, and smartphones are the perfect device for doing so.

They’re convenient, can be used in-store, and hold a growing influence on all retail sales, in addition to their rising e-commerce importance. Displaying details like where products are located in-store on mobile sites and apps can encourage and simplify omnichannel shopping, while in-store research tools such as Walmart’s AR comparison feature can offer more information to drive conversion among omnichannel shoppers.

In addition to preparing for the future, investing in m-commerce should pay dividends immediately given its tremendous performance over the holidays. Smartphones brought in $33.3 billion in sales from November 1 through December 19, according to Adobe, and tablets racked up $9.8 billion.

These devices accounted for 40% of retail revenue and 58% of traffic — 50% through smartphones and 8% via tablets. This shows how important it is to invest in m-commerce, as retailers and brands with lackluster mobile experiences risk alienating consumers in an extremely popular channel.

2019’s Six Key Social Media Marketing Trends

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Online Entrepreneur News

It’s that time of year again – say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019, a year with the potential to kickstart your business!  Now is the time to start planning your social media marketing strategy for the upcoming year. These are the key trends to follow for another successful year of social media marketing for your business.

Before you pick up on these trends, we highly recommend reviewing your existing social media marketing strategy to find what works and what can be improved. A closer look at your past campaigns, social posts, best-performing channels, and analytics can help you get ready for 2019.

As the social media landscape is changing at a fast pace, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends every year to ensure that your strategy is still successful.

1. Engagement is more important than ever

Facebook has announced early in 2018 the focus on meaningful interactions as part of their updated algorithm.

This meant that their algorithm started favoring content that sparks a genuine conversation, which inspired many Page Managers to create more engaging content.

As organic reach becomes harder, the only way to survive is to aim for content that is:

  • Interesting
  • Appealing
  • Engaging

Algorithms are becoming smarter so there’s no short route to genuine engagement. It’s not enough anymore to encourage people to like, comment, share on your post. Social platforms are trying to cut down on engagement bait techniques so you may risk losing your existing reach in the longer term with such techniques.

Thus, it’s time to stop ‘cheating’ to win engagement and start thinking of an improved engagement strategy for every channel to continue reaching your followers.

2. Influencer marketing and the rise of micro-influencers

Influencer marketing is becoming an established element of your marketing mix. Influencers can make thousands of dollars through paid sponsorships while brands are constantly seeking for the best influencers for their campaigns.

As influencer marketing grows, big influencers are becoming more expensive for small and medium-sized brands. That’s when micro-influencers came in to make up for the gap between being interested in influencer marketing and having the right budget to try it out.

Micro-influencers may not have the outreach of celebrities, but they may have an even bigger influence on their own followers. Even 40k followers as an audience can be perfect for a brand, provided that they are working with the right influencer for their target audience.

For example, a food brand may see better results by working with a rising food blogger with 30k followers than a well-known chef who may ask for 20x of the budget.

And just as micro-influencers keep winning ground, there is also the trend of nano-influencers, or else influencers who have up to 10k followers. They may not have a big audience to follow them, but they can still have a great influence over them, either by their job, their engaging social presence or their passion about a specific industry/topic.

Nano-influencers don’t require a big budget to work with them but you may need to spend more time on the research to find the perfect one for your brand.

Since they may still be new to the influencer marketing world, they may be seeking a partnership that matches their values and could possibly last in the longer term. They can also be easier to reach since they don’t have to deal with thousands of messages every day.

3. Social media for sales enablement

Social media is already helping customers in the phase of product discovery. Brands are able to promote their products through social channels and customers are finding out about them before making a purchase.

Social media is not anymore just about awareness and engagement, but it’s heading even more towards consideration and sales enablement in the business funnel.

A vast majority of respondents who discovered a product through social media proceeded to a purchase later on. Facebook seems to be the first channel that people discover new products, with Instagram and Pinterest following up.

What do these mean for 2019? Brands have a great opportunity to benefit from this trend to improve their social strategy. You don’t always need a sales pitch in all your messaging to convince people to trust you. Social media can help you tell your story and improve consideration. Right after someone discovers your product online, it’s up to you to provide a smooth experience that will make sales easier.

4. AI and customer service

Bots and automated messaging have already shown up in many brands’ customer service. Social media has made it easier for customers to reach a brand, which means that the expectations about the response time are increasing.

Chatbots have started becoming popular through Facebook’s Messenger when brands realized that it’s an easy way to add an additional customer support to the mix.

Not all customers were convinced that this is the best way to reach a brand, but the adoption rate is improving thanks to the enhanced intelligence and programming of the latest bot experiences. More brands are spending the time to program the bots in a way that they seem as authentic as possible. Whether it’s about giving them their own character or simply predicting as many customer questions as possible, there has certainly been great progress in how they work.

AI can also come in providing automating messaging to customers who want an answer to a common question. Brands can set up messaging that keeps their customers satisfied while they’re also saving time in repeatedly answering the same questions.

2019 will bring an improved adoption of AI as part of social customer service and it’s time for more brands to give it a try to ensure that their customers are finding the answers to their questions as fast as possible.

5. Stories, stories, stories

Stories are everywhere! Visual content in a vertical format that usually lasts for 24 hours became popular from Snapchat and it soon was copied by Instagram to turn into a global trend for people of all ages.

Snapchat may have struggled since then to remain relevant, at least in the way that it was known for, but we’ve already seen Stories to Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and just recently, LinkedIn.

There are currently more than 400 million people consuming Stories on Instagram on a daily basis, while Facebook is trying to integrate Stories to our daily routines.

Advertisers have already realized that Instagram Stories ads can be very effective, with Snapchat and Facebook following up with their current hype and demand. Why are stories so successful?

Stories are:

  • easy to create
  • fun and engaging
  • spontaneous  (they don’t necessarily require much editing before uploading them)
  • authentic
  • are not always lasting more than 24 hours

6. The end of fake followers

Instagram is currently one of the most popular apps in the social media landscape. Influencers have benefited from the app’s success by rising to fame through their growing audience.

However, it was no secret that several Instagram accounts have artificially increased their number of followers to boost their popularity. Many services provide fake followers for a fee and Instagram knew that sooner or later this had to stop.

Just last month, Instagram announced that they’ve started removing inauthentic likes, follows, and comments from accounts that used third-party apps to increase their popularity. They have actually built machine learning tools to identify such activities so that they prevent it from happening in the future.

This is a big step for Instagram towards maintaining their reputation as a popular social network where people (and brands) can grow their community through genuine interest and engagement.

Since the change has just started rolling out, 2019 will prove that the number of followers will not be as relevant anymore comparing to the actual influence and engagement that you’re having within your community.

As a brand, there’s no need anymore to chase for increasing your followers if you’re not already engaging with your existing ones. Spend more time on growing your community organically to avoid seeing a sudden drop of (fake) followers and likes.

What can we learn from all these trends?

2018 has been a big year for social networks and it will probably affect their future more than what we can predict now.

There have been small steps to improve trust, transparency, authentic engagement and genuine followers.

There is still a long way to go but it’s still important for brands to pay attention to the latest trends.

It’s better to start applying them to your social media strategy now to stay ahead of the curve instead of insisting on old tricks that might not work anymore.

Find the channels that work better for you, spend more time (and money) on them and always listen to your audience. They can offer valuable insights on what you need to improve on your social tactics.

6 Instagram Marketing Tips for Business That Get Results

By | Online Entrepreneur News, seo advice for business

What was the last thing posted your company’s Instagram account? Was it posted after careful thought? Was it created based on your target audience’s interests? If you answered yes to both questions, great job! You most likely have a successful marketing strategy on Instagram and a consistent layout to keep your viewers interested.
As one of the biggest social media platforms, Instagram can be a great tool to drive results for your marketing, so long as you have a solid strategy. However, with nearly a 4X higher engagement rate than any other social network, brands have a lot of opportunities to build communities among their mobile audiences. Today, we’ve got a few helpful tips to help you captivate your audience and get more engagement for your company:

1. Post Consistently

Many brands will post 2-3 photos a day, but there is no “right” number. Your posting cadence should align with your goals for this channel. More importantly: be consistent. Photos should be story-driven, compelling visuals. Short on content? You can also ask for photo submissions from followers or show the behind-the-scenes life of your business. Don’t forget that Instagram Stories allows for 15-second videos, too. Some brands have found creative ways around the time restriction, like breaking longer clips into multiple 15-second videos and posting them consecutively.

IT’S TIME TO POST!!

2. Offer Deals & Giveaways

A lot of deals and giveaways on Instagram are community-driven. Offer prizes to customers who take the best pictures of themselves with the product. Share a special promo code to reward your followers for remaining loyal to your business. They’ll be thankful for the deal and continue to follow your account for future perks. You can also ask followers to tag friends in posts or take selfies in order to enter contests and giveaways.

3. Work with Influencers

Influencer marketing on Instagram can be highly effective. By working with someone who already has an established audience on Instagram, brands can tap into new audiences and build followings. The most common tactic is to allow influencers to “take over” a brand’s Instagram account for a few days, so that the influencer’s followers will start looking at the account. Influencers often test or promote a brand’s product in each photo or video. Look for influencers who align with your brand’s values and mission, or who’ve shown interest in your company in past.

4. Harness the Power of Hashtags

The best way to start building an audience is to use common hashtags. Not just one or two, either. You can opt for anywhere from 5-11 hashtags per post to start growing awareness. By hashtagging industry terms and common words, you can quickly boost engagement and followers. Include hashtags that align with the content you’re sharing, and go for a mix of really popular tags and more niche-specific ones. The former will immediately get your post in front of a lot of people, whereas the latter will ensure your post remains near the top of results for longer. This goes hand in hand with SEO keywords. Hashtag the keywords you want your company to be searched for!

5. Keep Your Profile Link Fresh

The link in your bio is the best way to drive traffic from Instagram. Top tip: Use a Bitlink for any piece of content in your bio and you’ll be able to track exactly how many unique clicks your Instagram page has driven to your content. To add polish and improve engagement, many major brands use a customized branded domain in for all their Bitlinks.

For savvy social media managers who are constantly rotating their profile link, upgrading to Bitly Enterprise allows you to redirect your link to a new URL without actually changing the link in your profile, making it easy to update and track new campaigns on the fly.

6. Actively Engage Your Followers

The most successful businesses on Instagram don’t just respond to comments, they favorite and comment on other posts as well. By engaging with posts related to your industry or brand, you can create outbound awareness. However, don’t expect immediate results. It might take some time for your efforts to pay off, but don’t worry! Think of this as an opportunity to extend your brand’s voice and connect with potential customers.

 

Payless sold discount shoes at luxury prices — and it worked!

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

If you serve fast food on white tablecloths in a tony-looking restaurant, people sometimes think it’s haute cuisine. (At the very least, it tastes a lot different than it does when you’re scarfing it down from a drive-through bag).

It turns out you can do the same for bargain kicks by showcasing the footwear against the kind of chic backdrop usually reserved for luxury labels like Jimmy Choo and getting people to pay outrageous markups.

That’s what Payless did recently in Santa Monica, taking over a former Armani store and stocking it with $19.99 pumps and $39.99 boots. The chain, via agency DCX Growth Accelerator, invited groups of influencers to the grand opening of “Palessi” and asked their opinions on the “designer” wares.

Partygoers, having no idea they were looking at discount staples from the mall scene, said they’d pay hundreds of dollars for the stylish shoes, praising the look, materials and workmanship. Top offer: $640, which translates to a 1,800 percent markup, and Palessi sold about $3,000 worth of product in the first few hours of the stunt.

Payless, or “Palessi,” did ring up those purchases but didn’t keep the money. Influencers got their cash back, along with free shoes. Their reactions caught in the short- and longer-form ads—those shocked “gotcha” moments—are fairly priceless.

The retailer “wanted to push the social experiment genre to new extremes, while simultaneously using it to make a cultural statement,” said Doug Cameron, DCX Growth Accelerator’s chief creative officer. “Payless customers share a pragmatist point of view, and we thought it would be provocative to use this ideology to challenge today’s image-conscious fashion influencer culture.”

Payless CMO Sarah Couch says the chain aimed to tackle the brand’s perception issues head-on at a time when retailers are feeling more heat than ever from giant e-commerce sites.

“The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy and aims to remind consumers we are still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion,” Couch says.

 

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