Winners and losers of Google’s latest mobile friendly update: USA

Last week, Google’s John Mueller confirmed on Twitter that Google’s latest, stronger Mobile Friendly Update has been fully rolled out.

FYI The mobile changes mentioned here are now fully rolled out.

— John Mueller (@JohnMu) May 12, 2016

This update is supposed to give an even more powerful boost to mobile-friendly pages.

When we try to figure out the winners and losers of this, it’s actually much easier to identify the losers. This has to do with Google using the same index for both desktop- and mobile-searches.

This means that a small positive change, caused by the website’s SEO or webmaster, can actually improve the visibility of both the desktop and mobile results.

This makes it quite difficult to figure out the if the ‘Mobile Friendly Update #2′ was the cause for the increase.

Nonetheless, I will show you some examples for websites where the update is the most likely cause for success.

As far as the losing websites are concerned, we are able to check for all the problems that Google said webmasters should look out for, when it comes to mobile.

We looked at the mobile visibility for 200 domains for the time frame between April 25th and May 16th, 2016. We only took those domains into account which had a visibility score of at least 3 points for the Mobile Visibility Index.

Here are the most interesting cases:


1) crashed from 44.9 points to 12.2 points in the Mobile Visibility Index (a decrease of -70.56%)

This case is very interesting as we can use the new Google Mobile Friendly Tool to analyse their mobile version.

For many URLs there are up to five resources that are blocked to the Googlebot. Some of these blocked resources are from advertisement platforms, but just blocking the resources does not mean that Googlebot might not still see the following during their crawl…

instructables ads

When I visited the website from my iPhone, or using the Google Chrome browser, I was shown some annoying advertisements and there are also some interstitials.

As Googlebot will obviously ignore cookies, it is very likely that Googlebot gets to see these interstitials every time it visits the site. The crash may be caused by either problem.

It not only lost visibility in the USA but also in UK and ES (they also have content in Spanish that ranks on

2) went from a visibility score of 3.272 to 1.929 (a decrease of -41.05%)

This is a very simple case: is simply not showing their mobile website to mobile users, by default. The user must actively click on a link. This makes them a good example when we consider John Müller’s statement:

“The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal – so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content“

It seems that this website does not belong to the above category.

3) went from a visibility score of 13.593 to 9.770 (a decrease of -28.13%)

While the people at seem very likeable with their chipmunk mascot, they also have some technical problems.

If we run the site through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, we notice that Google will analyse the desktop version of the page. The sad part is that, if I open the website with my smartphone, I am shown a mobile version of the page.

hipmunk mobile friendly test

If you do not have an appropriate mobile version of your website, or if Google cannot find/access it, you will have problems trying to rank well for mobile searches.

In the next chart you can see the historic ranking data for the desktop and mobile results for for the keywords “cheapest flights.”

cheapest flights ranking

The red line shows the desktop positions while the blue line shows mobile rankings.

We can see that in the desktop-search they have been ranking in the top 10 for this keyword for a long time, while for mobile they only managed to crack the top 10 results three times, which is actually a pretty good summary of what is happening with the mobile friendly Google update.


As I said before, it is easier to identify the losers than the winners. While the winners could be where they are because they benefited from Google’s latest mobile friendly update, they could also show an increase because of positive SEO changes.


boardgame geek managed to increase their visibility from 5.774 points to 10.024 (an increase of +73.60%)

This case is interesting as we see a decrease in desktop visibility while the mobile-visibility is on the rise. The amazing thing is that they actually do not have a mobile version at all!

This will likely come back to Jon Mueller’s statement from before that: “even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content.”

This could definitely be the case for Boardgamegeek, a domain that is already 16 years old, has a massive community of users and a lot of relevant content for the more than 77.000 games they cover.

2) went from a visibility Index score of 8.973 to 12.950 (an increase of +44.32%)

The target audience for this educational website are young adults, who – as we all know – live glued to their smartphones. In the above chart we can nicely see how they break their negative trend after the update went live.

This shows that the same URL (the mobile update works on a URL level) has a better ranking for mobile than desktop for the keyword “electric circuits.”

desktop vs smartphone


reuters managed to increase its visibility score from 19.315 to 27.311 (an increase of +41.40%)

In many countries we see news portals sporting a higher desktop visibility, while here we see the mobile visibility come out on top.

If we look at the ranking history below, for the keyword “indian temple”, we see the desktop rankings in red and mobile in blue. In the past, neither ranked very high, but after the update, the mobile version jumped into the top 10.

indian temple ranking

It is very likely that the domain was then able to create positive user signals through their mobile results, which then also helped the desktop ranking. This very much makes sense once we consider that Google only has one index for mobile and desktop.

Juan González is the SEO and Country Manager from Sistrix.

Five ways UX blends with SEO to improve a site’s performance

seo and ux

For many years there has been a debate on whether UX and SEO can really go hand in hand, but this is not the case anymore. Today we’re examining how UX and SEO can make the perfect match.

There’s no need to question nowadays the need to blend UX with SEO when building a website, as none of these two can stand on its own.

User Experience (UX) focuses on target groups of people and usually bases decisions on their design preferences, as well as the industry’s trends, while SEO tends to focus more on the actual site and its data, in order to increase the content’s visibility in search engines.

However, there is a spot that these two meet…

Google made it very clear in its Webmaster Guidelines that even in SEO optimisation, users should be the centre of attention:

Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

And this is only a reminder on why SEO cannot work in isolation from other factors that affect a site’s performance, especially when the focus of the old days on keyword-stuffed topics is long gone.

Here are five points that remind us how UX can blend with SEO to improve a site’s performance:

1. Creating content for the user

Both UX and SEO should focus on the user and despite the older perception that SEO’s effectiveness depends on keyword and page optimisation, Google keeps reminding us to also think of the users when creating content.

It’s the human element that both users and search engines appreciate, as it indicates that the main goal is to satisfy the user, rather than the engine, although the latter will also favour the specific page in the ranking.

Whether it’s design or optimisation, the emphasis on the users’ needs help a page improve its performance and the audience will reward this effort with an increased time spent on the site.

2. Readability

Content should aim at relevance, quality and engagement, in order to become appealing and thus, convince the users to spend more time on it.

UX can enhance the appeal and the readability of a page and this may boost SEO, as the quality of the content is favouring a site’s crawlability from search engines.

Readability in SEO is the optimisation of the content in order to be clear, relevant, and informative, covering a topic as much as possible, in order to increase the page’s authority for search engines.

What’s more, keywords and on-page optimisation (even with the simplest steps) favour a post’s readability, providing that they are properly applied to enhance the browsing (and crawling) experience.

There’s no need to focus on target keywords anymore to increase the page’s ranking on SERPs, especially if it affects the quality of the content and its readability, as neither search engines, nor users will appreciate it.

Readability for UX is all about pleasing the users that access a page, ensuring that their first impressions will be positive.

A clear structure and a functional page, which works for all devices and browsers, contribute to an improved user experience and increase the chances of creating an engaged audience.

It’s the concise, legible, functional and properly formatted content that defines readability both for SEO and UX, with the combination of the two making a great match that users will enjoy.

3. Visual appeal

Visual content may contribute to the appeal of a page and both UX and SEO focus on its optimisation.

As human beings process visual elements faster than written information, images, videos and any other types of visual content are becoming important to the user experience.

In terms of SEO, visual content can be optimised to help search engines discover it and provide another way of leading traffic to your page through the rise of visual search engines.

User experience understands the importance of including visual content to a page, in order to increase its effectiveness, although it is very important to maintain the right balance, as visual content should not replace the actual text.

Moreover, both SEO and UX advocates agree that large images may affect the browsing experience, as they may disrupt the layout of a page and increase its load time.

Thus, always optimise your visual content, while keeping in mind the different devices, favouring both the desktop and the mobile experience.

4. Usability

It’s not just the design, but also the functionality of a page that affects the user experience.

An easy navigation allows users to further explore a page and and a proper menu functionality, internal link structure and clear navigation labels contribute to the time the users spend on a page and most importantly, they affect whether they will find what they’re looking for, which was the reason they initially clicked on the page.

What’s more, sitemaps are useful both for users and search engines, as they help the indexing, the navigation and the crawling of a site, which both SEO and UX want.

SEO and UX also agree on the importance of maintaining the right page speed, ensuring that heavy images, ads and faulty functionality won’t affect the time it takes to load a page. As users are becoming impatient with the loading speed of a site, it is critical to measure and improve the page speed, in order to keep the bounce rate as low as possible.

It is also important to test a page’s performance in all the browsers and the devices, aiming for a seamless experience for each user, with an additional focus on mobile users that keep increasing.

Furthermore, accessibility is also significant, both for SEO and UX, and it can be enhanced by ensuring that all pages are useful for readers with visual impairments, for example, who use screen readers to navigate a page.

Is your content descriptive? Is the navigation checked? Are your images captioned?

5. Retain users

UX aims to provide the site experience that helps users browse and find relevant and informative content and the right navigation pattern can guide them to the next steps in an easy and simple way that seems effortless to them.

Navigation and user paths may ensure that you retain users on your site, and by the time this is achieved, it’s time to think about conversion.

Both SEO and UX should have the idea of conversion in mind, either by turning visitors into loyal users, by encouraging them to subscribe to an email newsletter, or by turning them into clients.

Don’t be afraid to create calls to action that will help the users know what you expect from them. After all, users prefer to have clear guidance, rather than being exposed to multiple options that may paralyse them.

You don’t have to create content by simply having the idea of conversion in mind, but still, it’s the ultimate goal to understand what your audience wants and blend a great browsing experience with your business goals.

How UX and SEO optimisation may enhance a site’s performance

It’s not necessarily complicated to blend SEO and UX to improve a site’s performance, and it’s even more important to understand why these two cannot work independently anymore, at least not with the same effectiveness.

It’s SEO that may lead traffic to the site and help it reach a higher position on SERPs, but it’s UX that will determine whether the traffic can be maintained and converted into the set goals.

Thus, every site trying to improve its performance through UX and SEO should offer:

  • Quality, informative, and relevant content
  • Easy to use structure and simple and effective navigation
  • Optimisation of text and images to please both users and search engines
  • Appealing design that focuses on accessibility
  • Clear call-to-action, both around the users’ next clicks, but also around the desired conversion

Why ecommerce sites should use both SEM and SEO for acquisition

It is well-known that in order to get a good return on investment in terms of marketing, online retailers need to be constantly in front of their customers. However, with the rise of online users, it is important these retailers adopt a multichannel approach.

Despite being similar in that SEM and SEO both aim to improve visibility through rankings on search engines, they do have significant differences.

SEM is a pay-per-click (PPC) service, while SEO improves ranking organically and does not involve paying for search results.

However, with Adobe’s recent Q4 Digital Advertising Report explaining that not only are CPCs in decline in Europe, but click-through rates are on the rise, all signs are pointing to a Paid Search orientated strategy.

Are retailers better off investing their money in SEM or their time in SEO? Let’s explore the arguments for each technique.

Why should ecommerce retailers use SEM?
Quick results

With SEM, results can be achieved relatively quickly. Of course, you will be required to make changes in the AdWords interface, however once this has been done, you can see results almost instantly.

With SEO on the other hand, you will need to implement a longer-term strategy and it can take time to reap the rewards of your efforts.

Better conversion rates

According to New Media Campaigns, PPC holds a slight edge in conversion rates as paid search results are 1.5 times more likely to convert click-throughs from the search engine.

Direct control over your visibility

Even with a significant amount of time invested into SEO, there is no guarantee that you will ever appear in the top spots on search results pages. While the same can almost be said for PPC, bidding plays a huge role in paid search campaigns and increasing your budget can take you so far in improving your visibility on search engines.

Few website optimisations

Although good website structure helps to improve your PPC ranking, it is not incremental to do so to achieve good paid search results. SEO on the other hand, requires that your website’s structure and content are optimised to achieve good results

Why use SEO as well as SEM?

While there are many arguments that may convince online retailers to rely on Paid Search, there are also many benefits to using SEO as well as SEM in their multi-channel strategies.

No direct additional costs

Besides your time and effort, SEO allows you to achieve results without any direct additional costs. SEM on the other hand, can obviously require a significant amount of investment, particularly for competitive keywords.

Organic results more likely to be clicked on

According to the same study by New Media Campaigns, organic results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than paid search results!

Improve brand awareness

With organic results more likely to be clicked on, it is a no-brainer to invest in an SEO strategy. However, another added benefit is the possibility to improve brand awareness.

Presuming that you are able to successfully place your ads in paid search results, also appearing in organic results will help to reinforce your message and improve the visibility of your brand. Over time, the more your brand awareness increases, the more likely consumers are to trust your brand name.

A long-term strategy

It will take time and effort to properly optimise your website for search engines, but in the long term it will help bring you continuous website traffic for free.

Of course, you will need to be sure to keep up-to-date with the latest guidelines to ensure that you are not penalised and your efforts don’t end up going down the drain.

As you can see, there are many advantages to both SEO and SEM, however what is important to take away is that they are complementary techniques. Online retailers are generally encouraged to start by adopting both strategies.

For newly-launched businesses, SEM will accelerate brand awareness, as users start to recognise and trust your brand name. As a first step, it is wise to invest more into SEM while your SEO efforts get off the ground. You can then balance your investments once your organic visibility increases.

Mark Haupt is UK Sales Director at Twenga Solutions and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

Three tips to improve your mobile marketing from Nick Wilsdon, Vodafone

Vodafone Graph

While marketers realise the importance of mobile, many of them have yet to catch up with consumer expectations, or realise how SEO and mobile work together.

Everybody knows that it’s the year of mobile (again). Everybody knows that smartphones are behind more and more internet searches. But still, not everybody connects the two.

This winter, experience management platform Sitecore and UK market research company Vanson Bourne surveyed brand marketers all over the world about mobile marketing. While 97% of them agreed that a good mobile experience impacts customer loyalty, only 59% have a solid mobile strategy in place.

Part of that is because purchases haven’t caught up just yet. According to Google research, mobile commerce is particularly prevalent in countries like Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, where at least 60% of consumers regularly make purchases with their phones. But in many Western nations – including the US, the UK, Belgium, France and Germany – that figure is less than 10.

Nick Wilsdon, lead SEO for the Vodafone Group, believes there’s a symbiotic relationship between mobile SEO and mobile commerce. He believes that marketers excelling at the former will see more of the latter.

“[Too many marketers] haven’t been thinking about their site through mobile and not testing it enough. They don’t function in mobile; the buttons are too small,” said Wilsdon at Shift London. “The mobile web is broken right now. Very few people get it right, but there are a few champions in the area.”

1. Mobile and SEO

Last year, Google famously changed up its algorithm to favour mobile-friendly sites. The search giant has since launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative, which was designed to speed up mobile content.

More than three-quarters of people will abandon a site that doesn’t load in five seconds; 40% will X out after three. “Mobilegeddon” was born with consumer behavior in mind and brands that don’t follow along are penalised.

Still, 39% of the marketers surveyed by Sitecore don’t have mobile optimised websites in place. Wilsdon doesn’t believe they realise the kind of effect SEO has on mobile.

“This impacts massively on SEO because Google will give us a ranking benefit for having a fast website. We’ll then get more exposure and then get more traffic,” said Wilsdon. “It dovetails with everything that happens in performance.”

2. The ascension of apps

In the UK and Ireland, the Domino’s app now accounts for nearly half its orders. Wilsdon believes that case study is something marketers should aspire to, as mobile internet activity is increasingly happening in-app.

As a result, Google has been pushing its fast-loading Progressive Web Apps concept for most of the last year.

“We can cache parts of it and do push notifications, and basically make our webpages act more like apps,” said Wilsdon.

Analyzing data from 52 million Android smartphones, Paris-based Cheetah Ad Platform compared app engagement from around the world. Engaging with an average of 53 apps each month, Brazilians have the world’s most competitive app market.

For marketers looking to replicate Brazil’s app engagement, Wilsdon recommends smart app banners, which bridge the gap between the mobile web and apps; and native code, which bridges the gap between marketers and consumers.

“Native code actually interacts with your phone and knows whether you have the app installed already. This goes into app deep linking, which is a massive game changer for the web, which we can now link to specific functionality in apps from SERPs,” he said.

3. The seamless factor

Vodafone pushes Indian consumers toward the app when it’s time to pay their bills. That reduces the number of steps in process, as the app already knows who they are.


The strategy there fits in with a larger theme of seamlessness. Making the experience easier is ultimately going to increase customer satisfaction. About 90% of people don’t want to create a new login on a website or stay on a mobile site if they get their login wrong on the first try.

Push notifications are another good – but under-utilised, in Wilsdon’s opinion – strategy for retaining customers and making their lives easier. For example, your website can send alerts to users even when their browser isn’t open, reminding them that they have an item in their cart.

“Previously, we thought of mobile as something to bolt onto our sites. That’s not the case anymore. We have to retool the entire way we’re creating content,” said Wilsdon. “The mobile web is open for business; we now have the tools to make it work.”

How to write meta descriptions for SEO (with good and bad examples)

guide to primavera sound 2016 Google Search

What is a meta description? How do you write one? Why are meta descriptions important? Do they actually help with search engine optimisation? What are some good and bad examples?

Following on from our incredibly popular guide 22 SEO essentials for optimising your site, I thought I’d follow up the advice on meta tags and answer all of the above questions.

If you just want a quick guide to optimising meta descriptions, click here to jump to the checklist section.

For the rest of you, first lets talk about meta tags in general:

What are meta tags

As Kristine Schachinger described in our previous guide to meta tags back in 2012, meta tags are HTML elements that provide information about a webpage for search engines and website visitors.

There are two elements that must be placed as tags in the section of a HTML document. These elements are:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description

We’ve already discussed title tags in a separate post last week, and now you’ve mastered that skill, let’s move straight into meta descriptions.

What is a meta description?

The meta description is the short paragraph of text placed in the HTML of a webpage that describes its content. The meta description will then appear under your page’s URL in the search results. This is also known as a snippet.

The meta description will also often appear when people share your articles across other websites and social channels.

Methods Unsound meta description on facebook

Where do I add the meta description?

You can add a meta description in the section of your site’s HTML. It should look something like this:

You should have complete control of your meta description in your CMS, particularly if you’re using WordPress.

If you use an SEO plug-in, such as Yoast, you can add a meta description to the ‘meta description’ section, and you can preview an example of how it will look in search engine results pages (SERPs):

meta description example

Why is the meta description important?

A meta description can influence the decision of the searcher as to whether they want to click through on your content from search results or not. The more descriptive, attractive and relevant the description, the more likely someone will click through.

Are meta descriptions used as a ranking signal?

Google has stated that meta descriptions are NOT a ranking signal. But, again, the quality of the description will influence click-through rate, so it is very important to use this element wisely.

How to write a great meta description

Meta description checklist

  • Keywords: do make sure your most important keywords for the webpage show up in the meta description. Often search engines will highlight in bold where it finds the searchers query in your snippet.
  • Write legible, readable copy: this is essential. Keyword stuffing your meta description is bad and it doesn’t help the searcher as they’ll assume your result leads to a spammy website. Make sure your description reads like a normal, human-written sentence.
  • Treat the meta description as if it’s an advert for your web-page: make it as compelling and as relevant as possible. The description MUST match the content on the page, but you should also make it as appealing as possible.
  • Length: a meta description should be no longer than 135 – 160 characters long (although Google has recently been testing longer snippets). Any longer and search engines will chop the end off, so make sure any important keywords are nearer the front.
  • Do not duplicate meta descriptions: As with title tags, the meta descriptions must be written differently for every page. Google may penalise you for mass duplicating your meta descriptions.
  • Consider using rich snippets: by using schema markup you can add elements to the snippets to increase their appeal. For instance: star ratings, customer ratings, product information, calorie counts etc.

Good examples of meta descriptions

Here are a few examples of appealing meta descriptions that tick the above criteria.

‘best burgers in london’

Although the keywords are further down the description than perhaps they ought to be, the reason why this result is so appealing is the way the copy draws you in with emotive (and mouth-watering) language.

best burgers in london

‘captain america civil war review’

This contains markup to show the star rating, the meta description is short, snappy and best of all, contains a call to action.

captain america civil war review Google Search empire

‘meta descriptions’

Things really are getting too meta. Here Moz has managed to exactly describe what a meta description is, within its own meta description, which is terribly helpful. Although do note that the snippet is a lot longer than normally allowed by Google.

meta description Google Search moz

Bad examples of meta descriptions

‘best burgers in london’

I’m not really interested in the history of rubbish burgers in London, I want to know where to get a tasty burger now! This meta description also fails to include the ‘best’ keyword from its own title tag.

best burgers in london Google Search

‘captain america civil war review’

Although there is some rich snippet markup, the text is muddled and merely copies the title tag directly rather than offering a different enticement. It’s also far too long.

captain america civil war review Google Search

‘meta descriptions’

I’m not sure if there’s something blocking Google’s ability to crawl the webpage properly, but a website called ‘High Rankings’ should really know better than this…meta description bad Google Search

Five competitive advertising strategies to outsmart your competition


It’s often said that competition is good for your business. It pushes you to be your best. Think Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Visa vs. MasterCard, Xbox vs. PlayStation, or Apple vs. Microsoft.

Of course, part of the fun of rivalry is stealing customers from your rivals. You can do that with the help of advertising!

Today you’ll learn five brilliant competitive advertising strategies you can use to get in front of your competitors’ customers and (with a little work) turn them into YOUR customers instead. *Evil laughter*

1. Target Facebook users whose interests include your competitors

Facebook Ads doesn’t offer keyword targeting for your ads and you can’t specifically target people who have liked your competitors’ pages. However, Facebook offers something called interest-based targeting.

On Facebook, interests range from extremely broad (e.g., business or entrepreneurship) to very specific. In this case, your competitor’s name is the specific interest you want to target, because Facebook allows you to choose to target people based on, among other things, brands and products they like.


Type in your competitor’s website URL. Or, if that doesn’t work, you can type in your competitor’s brand name or try a few keyword combinations to figure out best option for reaching their target audience – which is now your target audience!

2. Disrupt your competitors’ videos with YouTube ads

Recently I was on YouTube searching for an AT&T ad. Before I could watch the ad I was looking for, I had to sit through another ad – I know, that’s modern life. But the genius part was that this ad wasn’t for AT&T, but for its competitor, Sprint.

In this ad Sprint explained why it is a better provider than AT&T and highlighted an offer to switch carriers, before I could even see the ad for the brand I had searched for.

To execute this competitive advertising strategy for your own campaigns, create the most watchable TrueView ad you can, adding in how much you’re willing to spend.

There are many targeting options to choose from (e.g., demographics, interests, keywords, remarketing). But today we’re feeling competitive!

You want to target your video ads so that whenever someone searches for the YouTube videos of your competitor that they’ll see your ad first. If you play it right, they might not even watch your competitor’s video!

3. Use your competitors’ emails against them with Gmail Ads

Another brilliantly sneaky competitive advertising tactic you should start using now is targeting people who have recently shown interest in the things your competition sells.

With Gmail Ads (those ads that appear at the top of the Promotions tab of users’ personal email accounts), you can do keyword targeting on your competitors’ brand terms.

As you read this, people who are in the market for your competitor’s products are getting emails from your competitors – and those emails mention your competitors’ brand terms.

For example, if you were competing with Sephora, you could target its brand name as part of a Gmail ad campaign so that every time a Sephora newsletter arrives in someone’s Gmail inbox, your brand ends up in its inbox as well. Obviously, your email should tell Sephora subscribers all about your great competing site and product and why they should check your out.

So if you want to try to steal some sales, target the trademarks of your competitors. Make sure you use an email subject line that will have users clicking your Gmail Ads in droves.

Use only the best-performing subject lines, the ones with the highest open rates – your unicorns. As an added bonus, because these people are already in the market for a competing solution, it’s likely that more people will click on your ads, which reduces your costs.


4. Reach your competitors’ audiences through the Google Display Network

Google has some great display ad technology. But if you want to beat up on your competition, you need to use Google’s custom affinity audience feature.

Affinity audiences let you target a predefined audience, one that should be more receptive to seeing your ads.


To make this work brilliantly, and avoid wasting your ad budget, you’ll want to target the home page of your competitor. AdWords will then figure out the brand trademarks and the behavior of the people who visit and are interested in that domain name (or search for content on related topics).

Let’s use MailChimp as an example: MailChimp is a publication that’s geared toward businesses doing email marketing. So if I’m running a similar business geared toward email marketers,MailChimp visitors would form the basis of our “ideal customer” we want to reach with our own display ads.

This will start the process of getting the right people familiar with your brand and the products or service you provide. And hopefully, with the right message, you’ll start stealing business away from your competitors and experiencing breakout growth.

5. Download & target your competitors’ Twitter followers

There are tools that allow you to download a list of every Twitter follower for any account, such as BirdSong Analytics. You can use these to download a list of all your competitor’s Twitter followers. Costs generally start around $35 and go up the more followers the account has.

Once you have your report, you can use those Twitter handles to create a list that you’ll then upload to Twitter Ads. Make sure to select the option to “add tailored audiences.” Uploading the list will take about 3 hours to process.

You can then create ads to get your business in front of the Twitter users who are already following your competitors and are likely in the market to buy or switch to a similar product or service. Genius, right?

After setting your budget comes the real fun. It’s time to get creative and compose your tweet copy. Important note: Twitter’s “advice” for ad success is kind of a disgrace, so please read my article on How to run a successful Twitter Lead generation campaign.

Don’t let your competitors have all the fun!

Remember, all these competitive ad strategies are putting your business in front of users who are interested in your competitors, which means they’re much more likely to be in the market for your product/service. You just have to show them that what you offer is better than what your competitors do!

Is content marketing really working? Advice and insight from #ClickZChat


We talk a lot about content. How to make it, what makes it work, how to measure it’s effects, if there’s too much of it and more. The fact that we’re a good few years into the content marketing revolution but we’re still having these conversations is telling in itself.

Despite many, many assertions to the contrary, a number of people and organisations simply do not believe that content works.

We took to Twitter to find out why this myth persisted, and what we could do about it in this week’s #ClickZChat.

As always, we asked three questions in one hour. Here’s the insight and advice from our witter followers:

As always – one hour, three questions. Please use A1, A2 or A3 and the #ClickZChat hashtag in your answer.

— ClickZ (@ClickZ) May 18, 2016

Q1: Do you think the C-Suite *really* believe in the value of content marketing Why or why not?

Q1: Do you think the C-Suite *really* believe in the value of #contentmarketing? Why or why not? #ClickZChat

— ClickZ (@ClickZ) May 18, 2016

Many felt that we were still relatively early in the content marketing adoption cycle, and that this view would change given time (and proof of data)

@sewatch industry recognition (and investment) will come as the quality of brand-inspired content rises #ClickZChat

— DigitasLBi U.S. (@Digitas) May 18, 2016

However, when it came to companies already doing it, metrics were often a sticking point.

Q1: I think a lot of orgs struggle to recognise value, because for all the talk, we’re still looking for one-step conversion #ClickZChat

— Matt Owen (@lexx2099) May 18, 2016

Last-click conversion was still being used in many cases, which made it harder to show genuine dollar value

A1) Content is only king if its got ROI to back up the talk. Managers see value in content, but need a$$urance. #ClickZChat @sewatch @ClickZ

— Chicago Style SEO (@chicagostyleseo) May 18, 2016

A1: Ultimately the c-suite only care about money. The cash upshot needs to be made clear to them. #ClickZChat

— Andrew Warren-Payne (@agwp) May 18, 2016

It is worth mentioning that there are plenty of trackable numbers out there, some of which may not fall under the traditional ‘marketing’ banner. Search was a popular measure of success

A1: I would have thought the value of content is self-evident, esp when it comes to SEO. But I’m not a C-suite manager, so… #ClickZChat

— Bex Sentance (@rainbowbex) May 18, 2016

@sewatch The best thing they could do is show them the benefits of doing it, but it’s really hard to make someone understand #ClickZChat

— Jonathan Nuñez (@JohnNunez2905) May 18, 2016

And ultimately we may just need a little faith and patience. Not something we all have the luxury of unfortunately

do #contentmarketing for helping the customers , money will follow you later. have patience #ClickZChat

— bhola prasad (@b_prasad26) May 18, 2016

So, how are marketers measuring ROI from content? Next up, we asked or followers for personal tips and examples…

Q2 How do YOU measure ROI from Content Marketing?

Q2: How do YOU measure ROI from Content Marketing? #ClickZChat Tools, metrics and tips please!

— Search Engine Watch (@sewatch) May 18, 2016

Starting with the basics. Having analytics in place, but also tracking human responses to content:

A2) #GoogleAnalytics ofc but also peep #socialmedia engagement. Whats the point of quality content w/o the ? #ClickZChat @sewatch @ClickZ

— Chicago Style SEO (@chicagostyleseo) May 18, 2016

It’s also important to have clear goals to begin with. Success looks very different from company to company

@sewatch It really depends on what you want to achieve with your content, do you want more SM followers? email subscribers? #ClickZChat

— Jonathan Nuñez (@JohnNunez2905) May 18, 2016

Raj mentioned that simple actions could lead to larger results. It’s important to consider which action you are driving, and at what stage it sits in your sales funnel

A2. If it’s content downloads or webinar registrations, use hubspot landing pgs & tie to salesforce crm #ClickZChat

— Raj Nijjer (@rajnijjer) May 18, 2016

With this in mind, it’s important to remember that it may not have to make ANY money. Content could reduce paid media costs, or work as a lead generation machine that does not convert directly

A2: For B2B, it’s a cost per lead thing unless you have data that ties all the way to sale. #ClickZchat

— Andrew Warren-Payne (@agwp) May 18, 2016

Q3: Which roles would you have as part of your content marketing dream team?

Q3 Our final question today – which roles would you have as part of your content marketing dream team? #ClickZChat

— ClickZ (@ClickZ) May 18, 2016

Initially, the focus was very much on creation, with lots of votes for key roles like designers, writers and editors:

@sewatch A3 : Copywriter(s), editor(s), design studio #ClickZChat

— John Watton (@jwatton) May 18, 2016

As mentioned earlier though, once you have created something, you need to have it seen by the right people

Q3 Titles differ, but need writing skills, design, and a distribution supercharger (Growth hacker, social manager etc) #ClickZChat

— Matt Owen (@lexx2099) May 18, 2016

it’s also worth pointing out that editorial and creative should have a strategic structure, rather than just concentrating on standalone pieces of content

A3. A kick-ass Editorial/Journalist skillset with ability to tell stories for prospects and customers #ClickZChat

— Raj Nijjer (@rajnijjer) May 18, 2016

A3. Depends on the org.
Definitely get the internal team involved with thought leadership content.
Analytics team to measure.#ClickZChat

— Jason Stockwell (@jj_stockwell) May 18, 2016

And needs to know the brand and the audience intimately

@ClickZ A3: Not a role, but I think wit is really underrated. A funny voice is something brands w the best content tend to have in common.

— Mike O’Brien (@MikeO13rien) May 18, 2016

And we received this remarkably thorough answer from Chris Lake which highlights the crossover between roles very nicely:

A3 I know @lakey from @empiricalproof has previously mapped out his content dream team #ClickZChat

— Andrew Warren-Payne (@agwp) May 18, 2016

Overall it seems that marketers are convinced by the ability of content to go beyond push marketing and create measures like engagement which are more valuable over time, but currently many of us are lagging when it comes to proper planning and measurement techniques. Hopefully the continuing advance of digital transformation will see this change for the better.

If you’d like to know more about content marketing, check out this useful Content Marketing Strategy Documentation Map.

Thanks as always for all your fantastic answers. Join us over on twitter every Wednesday for the next #ClickZChat

Here’s a new content marketing strategy documentation map

Mobile design and the art of doing one thing well


It’s best to do one thing really, really well – is one of Google’s “10 things” philosophy, written when the company was in its infancy. This is a great mantra for mobile projects to follow.

Where the young Google focused on excellence in web search, so mobile sites and apps must focus on meeting an identified user need in the most effective (usability) and rewarding (user experience) fashion.

This column will consider two approaches that help the business and the project team establish and implement a focused, user-centric project:

  • Working backwards. This forces the team to focus on the core purpose – the user need – of the project, typically by writing the launch press release or marketing slogan at the concept stage.
  • Minimum viable product (MVP). This concentrates development on delivering a product that does that core purpose well, shelving non-core features and functions for future releases and getting it into the hands of (early-adopting/loyal) customers as quickly as possible, so the product can be appraised and improvements made based on real customer feedback.

As articulated in previous columns, the audience and their need are identified through research, and user testing, and articulated through user stories, use cases and user journeys.

The benefits of the do-one-thing-well philosophy are:

  • Easier to ascertain project viability.
  • Helps to sell the project to stakeholders.
  • Keeps project focused on customer i.e. user-centered design.
  • Speed to market.
  • Keeps development costs down.
  • Easier to formulate marketing message/campaign.
  • Customer feedback influenced by design.

One of the major advantages of taking a do-one-thing-well philosophy is that it focuses attention on the mobile context. Good mobile-friendly sites anticipate when, where, how and why the user is visiting. Poor sites will simply reformat untargeted desktop content for the mobile device.

The following image shows the different incarnations of on three Android devices, a Samsung Galaxy Tab (tablet), an HTC One (smartphone) and Samsung Galaxy S6 (smartphone).

These were rendered concurrently using the really useful Mobilizer testing service. Note the difference between the tablet and smartphone sites, and even between the two smartphones.

Parisa Durrani, director of mobile strategy, at mobile agency Plastic Mobile

Doing one thing well is extremely important for mobile web because you want to answer the user’s question immediately. If a user is opening your web page in-store, they are most likely either searching for an item or checking a price. You want to give them a great web experience to entice them to download your app, if you have one, and further extend your relationship with the consumer.

Working backwards

The working-backwards methodology was developed at Amazon, one of the world’s most success digital/mobile commerce ventures, and has been emulated by many other m-commerce success stories, including Airbnb.

This is a great way to sell/explain/justify your m-commerce product internally, as well as making the customer central to the concept.

As explained by Werner Vogels, CTO, on his personal blog All Things Distributed in 2006, working backwards at Amazon involves:

  • Start by writing the press release. This clarifies how the world will see the product – not just how it is seen internally.
  • Write a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document. This imagines the user’s questions.
  • Define the customer experience. This explains how the product is used and the problems the consumer is solving.
  • Write the user manual. This covers everything in depth, including concepts, how-to and reference.

While experts appreciate how working backwards helps companies zero in on user-centered design, not everyone welcomes the extra documentation.

Allen Smith, VP of customer experience (CX) and head of Innovation at global digital agency DMI International:

Working backwards is really just an attempt at user-centered design, but from a non-practitioner’s standpoint (hence, why there’s such an emphasis on document types like a user manual and FAQ). Being user-centered is important for mobile web as well as every single other project, and this is built into the DNA of our projects.

We’ve found that most documentation really adds no value for our clients, and only contributes to either expensive over-runs or lowers the quality of projects because it leaves less time for actual user discovery. For this reason, we got rid of it (except for the rare occasion when a client has a need for a specific documentation type). We are radically collaborative and work principally from prototypes, which capture all of our learnings about a particular problem space and how to express a particular solution.

Once we’ve reached a certain fidelity in terms of the customer experience and testable business propositions, we essentially have the MVP target. Software is much easier to change after it launches, so we take advantage of that to release a testable hypothesis of the user value first and use feedback loops from various channels to help us understand which direction the service offer should take.

Arguably the most important part of working backwards is the press release headline or marketing message, the rest of the documentation is justification.

Consider the following four messages, if your call to action isn’t compelling, then nor is you mobile site/app.

  • Avoid the line. Order online… or by mobile. PASS.
  • Buy a meal for a hungry child with just one tap. PASS.
  • [Brand X] launches mobile site/app. FAIL.
  • Download our app. FAIL.

“Avoid the line. Order online” is the tagline for the US chain Panera Bread for its web/mobile ordering service.

It is unclear if this impressive service originated from this tagline, but it’s evident on first glance at the Panera smartphone or tablet site that design was based on three very clear use cases:

  • Order by mobile for “rapid pick-up” instore.
  • Order by mobile for home delivery.
  • Order by mobile for table delivery.
  • Minimum viable product (MVP)

    The concept of the MVP was popularized by Eric Ries on his book The Lean Start-up. His original definition is:

    The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

    The Ries Lean Start-up Methodology is based on a cycle of build, measure and learn. The quicker the MVP is built the quicker the learning and improvement starts.

    An example of a lean start-up cited by Ries is online shoe vendor Zappos. This started with Nick Swinmurn posting pictures of shoes from local shoe shops on his website.

    When customers placed the order, Swinmurn bought the shoes from the stores then sent them to the purchaser. Thus he validated the concept that customers would purchase shoes online, without needing to build out the infrastructure first.

    The best visual metaphor for MVP, was created by Henrik Kniberg, an agile/lean coach, at Swedish consultancy Crisp, and a long-term collaborator with Spotify & Lego.

    The diagram (much copied) contrasts two approaches to solving the customer problem: “I need to get from A to B quicker”, where the end result will be a car. First, the big bang which gradually provides the user with a part-built non-working product until the car is completed; whereas the second, the MVP approach, delivers gradually improving modes of transport: skateboard, scooter, bicycle, motorbike and, finally, car.

    In this article Kniberg explains that he has gone off the term “minimum viable product” as it can give the wrong impression to the client i.e. concern that they will receive “minimum releasable crap”. He prefers these terms:

    • Earliest testable product (skateboard).
    • Earliest usable product (bicycle).
    • Earliest lovable product (motorbike).


    MVP has become popular with mobile app start-ups, many of which have re-interpreted the concept, so the MVP model now increasingly looks like the doing-one-thing-really-well philosophy.

    The first version of the MVP app concentrates on delivering the core expertise, with the view that additional functionality will be added in future iterations, further down the roadmap assuming it is proven to meet a customer need.

    Mobile-friendly web design – including responsive design – should also apply this same lean, laser-focused MVP methodology. Mobile-friendly does not mean repurposing of bloated untargeted PC websites for the smaller screen.

    The MVP approach in practice

    Large organizations will sometimes spin off mobile projects into a separate entity to try to recreate the start-up environment. An example of this approach is ShareTheMeal, which is a World Food Program initiative that enabled donors to share 5.6 million meals (May 2016) with needy children with a single tap of their smartphone.

    Matthias Hellmund, chief technology officer, ShareTheMeal (WFP):

    While almost every start-up out there claims to work “agile”, for us that means we try to reduce features to an MVP, which can be implemented and launched within a few weeks’ time. Especially with anything transaction-related, I think it’s really crucial to test and verify your hypothesis with actual users doing actual transaction. In our case this is giving meals to children in need via PayPal or credit card transactions.

    So the important aspect is that we test those “experiments” with segments of our users. That means we need to be able to enable variants of the user interface only to specific users and compare their impact with a corresponding control group. We configure both from our server side, so we can increase distribution of a successful experiment to a larger part of our user base. We work in weekly sprints, so we can react on feedback and test results quickly.

    Because of our small team size, we develop the different parts leading to an MVP implementation, depending on the feature. For some parts, we created early draft designs as static screens on a smartphone then get feedback by inviting users to come into the office and swipe through the screens.

    For more complex and flow-related changes, we usually do a UX sprint first which results in sample designs for the corresponding screens, sometimes we also use interactive prototypes or click dummies. Then it’s a pretty close collaboration between implementation and design and some smaller tweaks based on QA (quality assurance) builds of the app. This allows us to swap graphical elements in the app with different variants, based on the experiment group.


    This is Part 20 of the ClickZ ‘DNA of mobile-friendly web’ series.

    Here are the recent ones:

    • The essential role of wireframes and flow diagrams in mobile design
    • Understanding the mobile customer journey and user journey; use cases and user stories
    • Getting to grips with mobile design methods and lingo: empathy maps and storyboards
    • Why user testing should be at the forefront of mobile development
    • Formulating the go-to market strategy for your mobile project
    • How to market your mobile site or app without spending a fortune on ads
    • The pros, cons and politics of hybrid mobile apps
    • Digital transformation: what it is and why it was the unofficial theme at MWC
    • Connected cars offer valuable opportunities for marketing your brand today
    • Everything you need to know about building apps for connected cars
    • The key ingredients of mobile design and UX methodology

    Google AdWords launches new features for mobile ads and maps

    Google Performance Summit_Table[3]_600

    Google has introduced new tools and features to AdWords to specifically address the consumer shift towards mobile.

    The changes and additions have been announced at today’s Google Performance Summit, and include expanded description lines, responsive display ads to fit different devices and formats, more customized bidding options, and pilot features for Google Maps which allow advertisers to introduce more information about their businesses.

    Of the trillions of searches made on Google every year, more than half now happen on a mobile phone. Google has also found that more than half of all web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.

    What has been announced? Here’s a glimpse of some of the announcements made at today’s Google Performance Summit.

    1. Expanded text ads for a mobile-first world

    In February, Google removed right-hand side ads on desktop to improve consistency across devices. In line with that move, Google has optimized its offerings around the screen sizes of the most popular smartphones.

    Later this year, prominent headlines in AdWords will increase from one 25-character header, to two 30-character headers, giving advertisers more room to explain their products and services before the consumer clicks on the link.

    The description line will also increase from two 35-character description lines to one consolidated 80-character description line.

    Currently, if a manually entered display URL does not match final and landing page URLs, they are disapproved. Under the change, domains will automatically be extracted from the final URL to ensure accuracy and the URL path can be customized.

    Google says these upgrades will be especially relevant for advertisers wanting to reach the “on-the-go mobile consumer” who wants to know exactly what products and services are available before tapping into a website.

    Based on early testing, some advertisers have reported increases in click-through rates of up to 20% compared to current text ads, says Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president, ads and commerce, Google.

    2. Responsive display ads

    Consumers on mobile are now engaging with content from mobile sites, from apps and from video. But for marketers, there is an ongoing challenge to create ads to fit across all these device sizes and formats.

    Google’s new tool – responsive ads for display – are designed to help advertisers develop ads to counter the diverse content, shapes, and sizes across the more than two million publisher sites and apps on the Google Display Network (GDN).

    It’s an important move because advertisers no longer have to resize display ads depending on the site or device they showed up on. Headlines, a description, an image, and a URL will be enough for Google to now automatically design the responsive ads.

    Google says the new tool allows advertisers to access new native inventory to engage consumers with ads that match the look and feel of the content they are already browsing.

    It is also extending the reach of GDN remarketing campaigns by giving marketers access to cross-exchange inventory to reach more websites and apps around the world.

    3. Bidding for a mobile-first world

    AdWords will soon allow advertisers to set individual bid adjustments for each device type (mobile, desktop and tablet). Previously, the process was more manual with each device embedded into ad campaigns through Google’s Enhanced Campaigns tool.

    Now, advertisers will be able to “anchor” a base keyword bid to the device most valuable to a business and then set bid adjustments for each of the other devices. Bids can be adjusted up to +900%.

    4. Connecting online and offline with mobile

    Particularly relevant for marketers is Google’s findings that location-related mobile searches are growing 50% faster than all other mobile searches. The platform says nearly one third of all mobile searches made on Google are today related to location.

    “It’s clear that consumers are moving seamlessly between online and offline experiences. So it’s important to help marketers think this way too,” says Ramaswamy.

    The search platform is introducing new local search ads across and Google Maps to reach consumers as they search for physical business locations.

    For example, when using location extensions, advertisers will be able to prominently showcase their business locations when consumers search for things like “shoe store” or “car repair near me.” In this example, “Smog Check.”

    Google_Adwords_Maps_Purple Icon feature_400

    This is in a testing phase, and currently not a permanent change.

    Google Maps

    New features on Google Maps will also allow businesses to develop more branded, customized experiences in two ways.

    1. Google is experimenting with a variety of ad formats on Maps to make it easier for users to find businesses around them. For example, a Map user could see promoted pins for nearby coffee shops or gas stations along their driving route. Here’s an example of the new promoted pins:

    Google_Maps_Promoted Pins_400

    2. Local businesses can now include more detail about their businesses such as special offers or product offerings. Here is what the new business page will look like:

    Google_Maps_Business page_400

    These latest offerings from Google AdWords reinforce the need for all businesses to understand the importance of mobile. Consumers have already made this shift, and businesses are now playing catch up.

    “As consumers live their lives online and blur the lines between online and offline, it’s more important than ever to build business for mobile,” says Ramaswamy.

    *Featured image courtesy of Google AdWords

    *Featured image courtesy of Google AdWords

    Tie your web, and mobile properties together in Search Console, plus three more recent changes

    properties in search console

    Since writing our comprehensive and barn-stormingly popular complete guide to Search Console a couple of weeks ago, Google has since released a few updates to make webmasters lives a darn sight easier.

    We’ll discuss a few of these later in the article, but first let’s reveal the news that Google Search Console now lets you tie all your managed multi-platform sites together and track the combined visibility in search.

    Search Console just launched a way to tie your sites together; something wanted by lots of people!

    — John Mueller (@JohnMu) May 23, 2016

    This feature is called ‘Property sets’ and will be found in the Search Analytics section of Search Console.

    From the post on the Webmaster Central blog:

    “[Property sets] lets you combine multiple properties (both apps and sites) into a single group to monitor the overall clicks and impressions in search within a single report.”

    So all those separate platforms you operate for one single brand – websites, mobile sites, apps – you’ll be able to treat as a single entity if you wish. You can even add HTTP or HTTPS versions of the same site and combine multiple apps.

    All you need to do is

  • Create a property set
  • Add the properties you’re interested in
  • The data will start being collected within a few days
  • This aggregated data from across all properties will be found in the Search Analytics section and you’ll be able to check everything from clicks, to impressions to CTR, as you would normally with single properties.

    The roll-out will take place in the next couple of days.

    This follows a few new recent features announced for Search Console:

    Deeper integration of Search Console in Google Analytics

    Google introduced the ability to display Search Console metrics alongside Google Analytics metrics, in the same reports earlier this month.

    search console in google analytics

    The new Search Console tab combines the data from both Search Console and Google Analytics, into one report. Previously you’ve only been able to see these in isolation.

    As Google says, “By combining data from both sources at the landing page level, we’re able to show you a full range of Acquisition, Behavior and Conversion metrics for your organic search traffic.”

    Search Analytics now has an AMP filter

    As I reported last week, Google has just started rolling out an accelerated mobile pages filter in the ‘Search Analytics’ report.


    Just head to the ‘Search Appearance’ option on the top filter selection and you’ll be able to see any queries that brought mobile searchers to your AMP content.

    Google has also introduced ‘Rich Cards’ markup

    And finally (for now) Google is also rolling out a new search result format, based on its rich snippets, that use structured markup to display results in a more visually engaging format, called Rich Cards…

    You’ll only be able to markup recipe and movie review posts with Rich Cards, they will initially appear in mobile search results in English for and there is already a Rich Card report set up in your Search Console…

    rich cards