Seth Godin on titles, transformation and Trump [video]

The countdown to ClickZ Live New York is on and with five weeks to go, our keynote speaker, renowned marketer Seth Godin, stopped by our office for a chat.

With ClickZ Live New York just a month away – you’ll be there, right? – we invited our keynote speaker to come hang out with us. And we filmed it, just because we weren’t sure if you’d believe us when we told you who we got this year.

Seth Godin is a marketing guru (though he’s too humble to accept that term), an entrepreneur and a speaker, as well as the bestselling author of 18 books. We tried to get Godin to tell us about his upcoming presentation; he wants it to be a surprise, though he did give us a little sneak peek. So instead, we talked about a bunch of different things, starting with those books.

His titles are catchy, often seeping into the marketing lexicon. ‘Permission marketing’ has its own Wikipedia page and ‘purple cow is so well-known that it was the title of one of our sessions at SES Miami last year. Where do these names come from?

“The purpose of the book is to make its way into the lexicon. That’s why it deserves to be a book. Most people don’t go into a bookstore looking for an idea, but if I give a few people a tool they can bring to the next meeting, they can explain their idea and the easiest way is to give it a name,” explains Godin. “So the name comes first. If there is no name, there is no book. I won’t write a book unless I come up with a way to talk about it.”

We also talked about the inspiration for Godin’s daily blog posts, who inspires him, and digital transformation, which is also the title of our newest (and coolest) track. You can’t talk about digital transformation without talking about disruptors. Companies like Uber, Airbnb and Netflix have turned their respective industries upside-down. Which industry is begging to be disrupted next?

Godin shared with us his prediction of what’s next, as well as his opinion of another big disruptor: Donald Trump. Given what’s happening in the country at the moment, we were curious to hear his thoughts on Trump’s unique campaign and he definitely didn’t hold back.

“I hate to take any shred of the smallest bit of credit for this neanderthal splitting our country into pieces, but it’s like he read all my books,” says Godin.

Wow, Seth, tell us how you really feel.

But this video is just a preview of what’s to come. We’re assuming you want more, so we guess we’ll see you next month in New York!

A couple of time-saving keyword optimization techniques for you to try

SEMRUSH KEYWORD VISIBILITY BY ESTIMATED TRAFFIC

If there’s one thing that almost all of us can agree on, it’s that no matter what changes in the world of digital marketing, there is one constant… there’s not enough time in the day.

The developers are busy, the designers are busy, the content team is busy, and you can’t wrangle a moment with the top brass or legal team to gain approval for the site section addition you desperately need.

Aside from spending your precious time trying to find ways to bribe site administrators and approvers of change to pay attention to your needs, you also need to spend time finding quick wins from a keyword and usability standpoint.

Whether you work on the agency-side or in-house, you can probably relate to sitting in this uncomfortable bubble.

Through the use of just a few tools, we’ll show you some opportunities for keyword optimisation that can help you save some precious time.

Nearly visible opportunities

I imagine you know what terms are ranking the highest for your organic campaign. You have likely obsessed over them as you worked feverishly to get them to this point. However, while in the fog of this keyword bliss you be missing out on a lot of nearby opportunities.

For a moment, let’s walk away from your targeted keyword ranking list and review your overall keyword rankings.

Using SEMRush or Linkdex, review all keywords that you are ranking for. While one may be quick to sort by search volume or ranking, here we’ll initially look at the results from the view of Estimated Traffic.

If you are blinded by search volume and sort in this manner you are likely going to see a lot of current rankings for high volume terms, but are many pages deep in search results.

Estimated Traffic is going to show us what terms are of a decent search volume but also the ones that may only rank just outside of the first page.

Hopefully several of these rankings are what we would call ‘nearly visible’.

Some marketers also call these ‘accidental rankings’ in some cases, as search engines may deem you relevant for a keyword variation (which has a decent amount of search volume) of a targeted keyword term without you ever having targeted the respective term.

Look at these pages and gain an understanding of how well the near visible term is represented in the content of the page. Can you add the term to page elements such as the title element, H format heading and image alt text?

Remember, the dev/design teams are busy so we are making simple site modifications.

Aside from the target page(s), can we add internal links from other pages’ body copy to this page? You may find yourself quite surprised in some instances at how you were ranking for a less than optimized term.

Simple optimizations that can ‘squeak’ out a few rankings can make the difference in additional traffic. Think about what happens when you do this to 20 pages.

The top 10

The next area you’ll want to review is your Google Analytics profile.

Navigate to the organic search landing pages section within a window of the last three months, then take a look at the top 10 referring landing pages from organic search traffic. In a lot of cases, these top 1o pages can be responsible for drawing a majority of your organic traffic.

Here we’ve grabbed our top 10 pages and now the real opportunity begins, as we’ll be looking at these pages’ visibility under a similar lens as above.

From here move to your Google Search Console. Within the Search Analytics section, Landing Pages, review the pages by impression display.

GSC PAGES BY IMPRESSION
Take your first top 10 page from the previous step and find this in the display. To the right, click through on the double arrows to set a filter display for only this image.

GSC CLICKS ON ARROWS

Next, move from the Landing Pages tab to the Queries tab. This will now show us all of the queries (keywords) which this page is displayed for.

Now you can move in two directions. You can undertake the process of going to the respective page and addressing the focus/mentions of this keyword. I urge you to do that but the second avenue is also important as well…

Download all impressions that are showing for the given page.

DOWNLOADING GSC LIST

Take the downloaded list to Google Keyword Planner.

We know that of the downloaded list, Google seems to think our page is relevant for these terms. Let’s see if we can use this keyword research tool to understand first what terms in the list have the best search volume but also if there are additional terms of decent search volume that we may want to turn into near visible terms.

*Note: You will likely find terms that could be a great additional target for your top 10 page in review, but don’t be surprised when you find additional terms that may want to sideline as a targeted focus for child/related pages or keyword related questions that are useful for a blog post or FAQ page.

Insights in no time at all

See, that wasn’t so bad. Whether you have time to dive into a handful of terms or a dozen pages, there is often much that can be gleaned and implemented by non-rocket scientists and doesn’t require the attention of multiple teams and newly devised keyword strategies.

Now quit spending your time reading and go pick that low-hanging fruit!

Google asks bloggers to nofollow links for free gifts: expert view

dad blog

As we reported on Friday, Google has issued guidelines for bloggers who receive free products from companies.

Google’s advice is for bloggers to nofollow any links that they add to products they’ve received as ‘these links didn’t come about organically’.

It may sound simple enough, but it raises a number of issues. These include:

  • Is there a problem with bloggers providing links in return for free products?
  • If so, is this the fault of the bloggers or the brands/agencies applying pressure?
  • How can Google tell the difference between a link added in return for a freebie and a natural link?
  • Should bloggers be worried? Will Google make an example of one or two sites as it did with guest blogging?

I’ve been talking to some search experts about the issue.

  • Henry Ellis is MD at SEO, social and mobile agency Tamar. He also runs a parenting blog in his spare time.
  • Barry Adams is the Founder of SEO consultancy Polemic Digital.

Why does Google feel the need to ask bloggers to nofollow links? Is there a problem with links for freebies?

Henry Ellis:

Influencer engagement isn’t necessarily about receiving links but more about reaching the audience of a particular blogger or online ‘personality’. The halo effect is that these engagements produce links, but that is often secondary.

Google has no hope of enforcing any issues around this so it seems it has chosen to go for bloggers instead. If Google can scare some bloggers into nofollowing links then it doesn’t have to take the step of telling the brands off – those same brands it wants to spend money on PPC ads etc.

Barry Adams:

It’s all about scale. Blogger outreach has now become such a scalable endeavour – and bloggers are now so clued-in to the commercial possibilities of working with companies – that great outreach campaigns can achieve significant success in a fairly short amount of time.

Google doesn’t like it when any link building tactic achieves scale. Every single time a tactic has become scalable, Google has acted on it.

Where possible, it will employ penalties – the higher profile, the better – to ensure there’s a sufficient level of fear and apprehension and the tactic is quickly discredited and abandoned.

Google combines this with big pronouncements like the recent blog post, leaving no room for doubt about what they see as ‘disagreeable’. The end result is the majority of the SEO community jumping, without Google having to say how high.

In my view, there’s nothing wrong with linking out to the company that gave you a free product to review. In fact, it’s a perfectly normal and legitimate thing to do.

What are the biggest problems, as you see them, with Google’s advice here?

Henry:

I run a dad blog in my spare time and, like me, most bloggers do this sort of thing as a hobby. It’s never going to make any money. If you’re lucky, you might earn enough to cover costs, but that’s not what it’s about for many. We’re not all Zoella.

As for links, if I receive a toy or something similar to review, I’m not asked by Hasbro or whoever for links – they simply want to get some reviews and coverage of their product. I’ll often add a link as that’s a natural thing to do for readers.

Barry:

It’s now up to individual bloggers to make educated decisions about using nofollow tags – which also brings with it a learning curve about what the nofollow tag is and when it should, and shouldn’t, be used – and this will likely lead to extravagant use of the nofollow tag.

It wouldn’t surprise me if blogging platforms were to start tagging all links as nofollow by default.

I would advise bloggers to ignore Google entirely and link out liberally to whoever they feel deserves it. But I fear that advice will fall on deaf ears, as the inevitable fear of getting penalised will overpower all other concerns.

Google is now clearly redrawing the lines of how a company’s promotional efforts are allowed to influence the link graph. It seems Google interprets any promotional activity that results in links as an attempt to manipulate its search results, which begs the question what a company is actually allowed to do in Google’s eyes to boost its online profile.

Lastly, and most significantly, this is clearly yet another case of Google wanting to have its cake and eat it too. Google makes billions from the free and open web, by using the web’s content and link graph to power its search engine.

Yet at the same time Google is unwilling to put in the effort required to ensure that its search engine continues to deliver quality results. Google wants the web to police itself, so that the search engine can just chug along nicely.

This is a morally bankrupt position to take; if Google wants to continue making such obscene profits from the web, they need to ensure their search product is sufficiently smart and advanced to rank the right websites for the right query. The burden should not be on the web to help keep Google’s results clean.

How do you think Google will determine the relationship between blogger and brand whose products they are discussing?

Henry:

That’s why it’s asking for nofollowed links, it can’t. Nofollow is Google’s method of choice when it has no way to enforce something with an algorithm change. It simply cant tell the difference between paid and on-paid links.

My theory is that Google is looking to add more layers of sentiment to its alogrithm, but it wants to keep its results fair and balanced. This was one reason for the launch of Google+. It can’t tell the difference between natural and ‘paid’ reviews so its asking bloggers to police this.

Barry:

It can’t. That’s why, in addition to the blog post, we should expect Google to start dishing out penalties to bloggers that have obvious link placements. A few high profile penalties should suffice to instill an overpowering fear of linking to companies among bloggers, at which point Google’s work is done.

Google doesn’t actually have to figure out the difficult bit of algorithmically identifying commercial link placements; they just plant the seeds of doubt, and let the blogosphere’s inevitable panic do the rest.

What do you think? Is Google right to clamp down on links for freebies? Or is Google overreaching here? Let us know below…

Rob Kerry on the future of search: 2016 and beyond

At the inaugural Ayima Insights digital marketing conference, Ayima co-founder Rob Kerry gave us his insights into how the field of search is currently developing, and what the future may hold in 2016 and beyond.

Things were simpler back in the early days of online search. Or so I’m told – I wasn’t actually there, but Rob Kerry painted a vivid picture during his presentation at Ayima Insights Conference last Thursday.

Google’s slogan of “Don’t be evil” actually seemed like something that the company still believed in; ads and sponsored links were much more clearly delineated; and all you needed to do to make your site rank well in search results was to insert a keyword in the right places.

Rob Kerry recalls a simpler time in search

Now things are much more complex, with developments in mobile technology and voice search changing the way that people seek out information. And Google, in spite of all its best efforts, is no longer as central as it would like to be.

So what are the key trends currently affecting the direction of search, and what changes does Kerry sense in the winds for the future?

Walled gardens

A long-standing source of frustration for Google has been the increasing amount of web content that is contained within ‘walled gardens’, sites like Facebook to which people post crucial details about themselves, their lives and loves, all beyond the reach of Google’s grasping, information-hungry hands.

Google wants to know everything it can about you so as to serve you the most dedicated, personalised search results, sometimes before you’ve even searched for something. As Kerry put it, “They’re not giving a decent result to the user if they don’t include data from these platforms.”

Photograph by sportsilliterate on Flickr; some rights reserved.

Saying that, Google is also guilty of doing the exact same thing, using its Knowledge Graph function to pull information from websites like Wikipedia onto the search results page, in order to provide the reader with all the facts they need without leaving Google.

In all honesty, the web nowadays is essentially a Battle of the Walled Gardens, with social platforms embedding media such as videos in order to prevent people from leaving the site to watch them; the launch of initiatives like Facebook Instant Articles which serve news articles directly within Facebook; Wikipedia improving its internal search engine to help people find information from its sister projects… the list goes on.

Kerry pointed out that Google in the old days faced very little real competition from its rivals, whose algorithms couldn’t match Google’s for sophistication and accuracy.

While this is still more or less the case, the real threats to Google in 2016 and beyond come from the shifts in online behaviour which take information out of reach of its algorithms. One of those shifts is the trend of publishing data to enclosed online spaces instead of web pages; the other is the rise of mobile.

A mobile screen displaying a search interface, with a touchscreen keyboard at the bottom and search bar at the top.
Image by Peter Morville on Flickr; some rights reserved.

The rise of mobile and voice search

It barely needs reiterating at this point, but internet access on mobile is expanding massively across the world, with the volume of mobile data traffic growing by 74% globally in 2015 alone. As a result, mobile technology increasingly dictates the way that people search for information.

This is another area in which, Kerry pointed out, “Google has very little influence, especially on devices such as the iPhone.” While at one time it would have been customary to set your homepage on a desktop browser to Google, things on mobile tend to be much more app-based. (I can’t even remember the last time that I used my browser homepage on mobile).

In fact, Kerry predicts that using apps to discover information instead of a browser is “an area that’s going to develop even more going forward.” I’m sceptical on that front, because I can’t really think of any apps I have which would be useful for information finding except for the Google app (or, all right, DuckDuckGo) and the Wikipedia app. But it could be that I’m behind the times.

A screenshot of a phone screen with a number of different apps laid out around a digital clock, reading 10:17 on Monday 14th March.

Of course, the recent launch of Accelerated Mobile Pages – Google’s super-speedy mobile web initiative – is one way that Google hopes to reclaim dominion over the mobile internet space (and expand the reaches of its own walled garden in the process). But Google has another problem which stems from the way people use their mobiles to search.

Voice search and voice commands on mobile are becoming increasingly common as people use digital assistants like Siri and Cortana to perform search queries and carry out tasks.

“It’s becoming a lot more common for people to search by talking into their phone,” said Kerry, recalling a time when a person walking down the street talking into a hands-free kit would look like they were talking to themselves. Now it’s a common sight.

But Siri and Cortana aren’t obliged to route their searches through Google in order to return results. “You can bypass Google completely,” Kerry noted, “which is a massive threat to them.” Google has since launched its own voice-controlled digital assistant, Google Now, but it’s not nearly as synonymous with voice-activated digital assistance as Siri has become.

A screenshot of a conversation with Siri in which the user (our editor Christopher Ratcliff) tells Siri "Open the pod bay doors HAL", a reference to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Siri wearily replies, "Oh, not again."

Google Now lacks the distinctiveness and personality of Apple’s digital assistant, and many Android users will simply look for how to install ‘Siri for Android’ instead. (Although why would you choose Siri when you can have JARVIS from Iron Man?)

This increasing humanisation of technology and in particular, search, could be one of the reasons why people are starting to phrase their search queries differently. For an increasing number of people, search no longer a set of disconnected keywords but a conversation, and searches are becoming longer and more specific as a result.

The return of Ask Jeeves: natural language search queries

Remember Ask Jeeves? The 1996 search engine which revolved around questions phrased in everyday language was actually ahead of its time, according to Kerry. Twenty years on, search trends are finally moving towards ‘natural language’ queries, but far too late for poor Ask Jeeves.

A screenshot of the old Ask Jeeves homepage circa 1996, with the smiling cartoon butler of Jeeves standing next to a search bar.
Ye olde Ask Jeeves.

The company behind Ask Jeeves stopped developing its search technology in 2010, instead choosing to outsource it, in the face of huge competition from more popular search engines. Ironically, Kerry estimated that if Ask Jeeves’ search technology were still in development today, “it would be worth a considerable amount of money.”

Rob Kerry’s assessment is that website owners need to have Q&A style content on their sites in order to do well in the world of natural search. With search technologies like RankBrain and Hummingbird able to serve up more intuitive, tailored results to increasingly specific questions, website owners need to have the answer to these questions on their sites.

A screenshot of the Customer Questions & Answers section for a product on Amazon, featuring such questions as "Does it have output jack?" and "Does it have instructions?", with the responses from buyers below.

Kerry pointed out that ecommerce websites like Amazon are increasingly integrating this sort of information into their service with the Customer Question & Answers feature. I’ve also noticed that dedicated Q&A sites such as Quora appear much higher up the search results these days than they once did, possibly the first evidence of this trend in action.

Of course, it may be that the demand for human-created answers to questions will only last for as long as it takes our digital assistant counterparts to catch up and render us all completely irrelevant.

But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Google issues guidelines on bloggers and links for freebies

links

The practice of brands engaging with popular bloggers seems to have caught Google’s attention, with the search engine offering some advice on what bloggers should do in this situation.

Or, as it’s very easy to interpret, Google is suggesting it may take action if it deems that links have been added to posts in return for free goods.

In its post, Google advises bloggers to nofollow links to company’s sites, social pages and any sites selling the product in question.

The advice:

Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link).

Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.

Google also adds that bloggers should disclose any relationships as if this was a form of sponsored content.

I think the key point here is Google’s assertion that ‘links that pass PageRank in exchange for goods or services are against Google guidelines on link schemes’.

The threat is implicit here – if Google sees a relationship between freebies and followed links, then the blogger may suffer.

It’s a grey area, to say the least. If bloggers are accepting gifts in return for links, and that’s the basis for the freebies, then such bloggers can’t complain.

However, there are legitimate reasons for bloggers to receive freebies and these bloggers will often seek to make money through affiliate links. This is how they pay for hosting, or to cover the time they spend writing.

For example, a gadget or video game site receiving items for review may then place links to Amazon where people can buy said items.

These reviews may be positive, they may be negative. Will Google take this into account before possibly penalising such bloggers?

The fact that Google is issuing advice at all suggests there may be consequences for bloggers here, and I’d advise caution.

However, I think Google is stepping into a very grey area here. Some relationships between bloggers and brands may be obviously quid pro quo, but in the absence of clear contracts, I wonder how Google will ‘enforce’ this, and whether bloggers who have legitimate relationships with companies will be penalised.

For brands, it seems that blogger outreach, considered a legitimate marketing tactic, is now very much on Google’s radar.

Seven of the most interesting SEM news stories of the week

google blogs have moved

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week we have a ton of updates from Google, who just can’t take a week off apparently, and a few interesting studies on content marketing and mobile search.

Google has removed PageRank from public view

If you’ve been using a PageRank tool in your browser than I’m afraid I have some bad news. It’s probably already gone.

As confirmed by Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, Google is removing PageRank from its Toolbar.

PageRank will still be used internally by Google, but as trends continue towards machine learning and user experience, it’s questionable for how long this particular ranking factor, that hasn’t been updated for years, will even be a thing.

Early results of Google killing Right Hand Side Ads

Kenshoo has published new research revealing some early results from Google’s recent removal of Right Hand Side Ads.

Among the key revelations from the first week the change happened:

  • A one penny (or roughly 1%) decrease in CPC
  • Average position improved by 0.2, moving ads closer to the top of the page on average
  • Click-through rate (CTR) increased by one tenth of a percent, which represents a 7% increase over the previous week
  • Week-over-week changes to click and spend volume were ultimately within normal weekly variance, with a small increase in clicks and a smaller increase in spending due to the drop in average CPC

Google is migrating its blogs

In a recent statement John Mueller announced that, “Google is moving its blogs to a new domain to help people recognize when they’re reading an official blog from Google.”

This basically means all the official Google blogs will be moving from blogspot.com to googleblog.com.

Mueller has assured that all redirects have been put in place, so your bookmarks and links will continue to work, however “as with a custom domain change in Blogger, the Google+ comments on the blogs have been reset.”

That last bit made me chuckle.

Google offers advice on building mobile-centric search strategy

In a Think With Google post this week, Lisa Gevelber has offered up loads of juicy stats and guidance on where to begin with mobile search, particularly for luxury brands.

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Mobile makes up 88% of all ‘near me’ searches, with those mobile searches growing at 146% year over year.
  • For automobiles, the most popular mobile-centric searches are for luxury car price enquiries. For instance ‘Tesla price’, ‘Maserati price’ and ‘Audi R8 cost’. These grew nearly 90% on mobile from 2014 to 2015.
  • For jewellery, the most popular mobile search is for ‘promise rings’. These related mobile searches grew by 77% from 2014 to 2015 and tended to spike around the holidays and Valentine’s Day.
  • For hotels, data from Hotels.com states that 74% of mobile bookings are made for same-day check-in. The most popular mobile-centric hotel search themes include ‘near me’, ‘cheap’ and ‘price’.

Only 20% of iOS apps and 30% of Android apps support app indexing

Brands are missing out when it comes to enabling deep linking in their apps, which allows Google to crawl its content beyond the mobile web.

According to Searchmetrics, in a study of the 100 most visible websites in Google US searches, it’s been found that although 84% offer an Android App, only 30% of these had implemented app-indexing.

And then of the 88% that offer an iOS app, just 19% were found to be support app-indexing.

ios app indexing

‘Peak content’ has been reached for brands

As Chris Lake reported this week, a recent TrackMaven report has looked at the content marketing activity of almost 23,000 brands and their 50m published pieces of content.

It turns out that the average brand publishes more than 2,000 pieces of content a year, and in 2015 this increased by 35% compared to the previous year.

But there is only so much content people can consume.

Although there were a total of 75.7bn interactions, the average engagement actually decreased by 17%.

The chart below shows the widening attention gap, based on the volume of shares on social platforms vs response rates.

output vs engagement

For more detailed analysis, check out the report.

Four out of five people expect ‘online banking’ style government services

A new YouGov survey commissioned by CitizenSafe, has revealed 81% of British people expect to be able to access key government services easily and securely online.

These include filing tax returns, managing pensions, claiming redundancy pay or viewing and sharing driving licence details.

  • 80% of respondents have already used online banking outside of usual ‘office’ hours and expect no less from government services
  • 52% said that verifying their identity online anywhere and at any time was the most convenient option for them
  • 61% of full-time workers and 64% of full-time students agreed that verifying their identity online was the most convenient option for them

Five tips to achieve content marketing success

amb

Content marketing has seen an impressive growth during the past few years and this has made an increasing number of brands examine the best tactics to invest in content and boost sales.

We attended Ayima’s Insights Conference in London this week, and here’s what we learned from Danny Chadburn, Head of SEO at Ayima and SEW contributor, on how to create a successful content marketing strategy.

1) Ambiguity is your mortal enemy

It is important to create content that is clear and specific. As Danny Chadburn said, “aim for one single goal and do it well.”

This allows you to produce an organised content strategy, which will lead to meaningful (and effective) content.

Ambiguity is not helpful for users, as it may be confusing, distracting, or even annoying. That’s why a brand should aim to drive people to a specific product, or page through the right use of content.

Takeaway: always make sure that the content you create is purposeful and relevant.

2) Bridges should be built to last

Find a content gap in your industry and seize the opportunity to jump in. Make a research plan, calculate how much to invest, the resources needed, work out your goals and create something that is built to last.

This will allow you to stand out from the competition by taking one step at a time. As with a bridge, you don’t have to create an impressive and costly one if you don’t have the necessary budget, all you need is to build a safe and effective one that people will enjoy the benefits of.

Takeaway: Even one opportunity to fill the right content gap may be the key to a successful content strategy. Find what your business needs, search for the right keywords, aim for relevance, be consistent and then you’re ready to reach your content marketing goals.

3) Bespoke always beats bog-standard

be

By the time you understand your industry, you’ll only beat the competition by creating the best possible content. It’s not just about perfection, but also about uniqueness and authenticity, which will ultimately make a brand stand out.

Your audience will certainly appreciate genuine content that’s not boring and this will lead faster to the desired goals.

Takeaway: aim for the best content you can create.

4) Leave flexibility for a final edit

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 11.37.10

There’s always room for another tweak and this serves as a reminder for all of us to spend a reasonable amount of time to edit our content before it’s published.

However, this doesn’t mean that we should (always) embrace perfectionism, as it may be very useful from time to time to deliver content that can still be improved, as a way to gain useful insights from the audience and edit it afterwards.

As with the product that a business launches even before it’s fully ready, it’s a way to ‘test drive’ the reactions of the consumers and act accordingly.

Takeaway: never forget to edit you content and only publish it when you feel happy with it.

5) Serve in the simplest format

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 11.38.10

It’s not always easy to achieve simplicity with content, especially when you’re delivering it without considering your audience.

Danny Chadburn reminds us that the level of complexity of our research should not reflect the content we’re creating for the audience, with simplicity always being appreciated.

After all, the ability to translate a complex topic into a simpler one is the best way to prove your actual understanding of it.

Takeaway: people enjoy simplicity and it’s important to think from their perspective when delivering content.

The winners and losers of ‘mobilegeddon’ in the USA

universal-studios-orlando-mobile

In the USA, mobilegeddon was much more successful in making website operators take note of Google’s mobile-friendly update than for any other country we looked at.

For the European search-markets, the worst mistake we found was companies not having a mobile-friendly version of their site.

In the USA, many website operators just made sure their homepages, and maybe a few content pages, were mobile-friendly. Thanks to the nature of the mobile-friendly update, which is considered on a URL by URL basis, these domains will still lose visibility on all non-mobile-friendly pages. This far from an ideal solution.

The website for Universal Studios Orlando is an example of ‘partially mobile optimised pages’. This causes the mobile visibility for the domain to be 48% less than the desktop visibility.

The domain is ranking for 2,450 top 100 keywords for the desktop search and 1,501 top 100 keywords for mobile, a 40% loss between the two. The Top 10 does not look much better, with a 36% difference.

Here we see the results of a ‘site:universalorlando.com’ query on a smartphone. A few of the results show the ‘Mobile-friendly’ badge, while many others are missing this mention.

There are a number of large domains with a similar problem. Some examples are Kayak.com (-31%), NBCsports.com (-53%) , NYC.gov (-35%), Kmart.com (-35%), Kohls.com (-35%), Remax.com (-40%), Census.gov (-43%), Priceline.com (-46%), 6pm.com (-46%) and Hotels.com (-38%).

Anytime someone loses their ranking, someone else will pick it up. Which leads us directly to the sites that came out on top after ‘mobilegeddon’.

Winners

1) Twitter.com

Twitter.com has the largest gain in mobile visibility. It ranks for 271,529 top 100 keywords for a desktop search and 266,587 keywords for mobile searches. Twitter manages to take this small difference of 1.5% in the top 100 keywords and turn it into an increase of 171% in visibility for mobile over desktop.

Twitter ranks for 92% more top 10 keywords on mobile than on desktop-searches.

twitter-mobile-visibility

Clearly partnering with Google and allowing its tweets to be indexed has led to this triumph.

2) Wordreference.com and 4) Cambridge.org

The English-Spanish dictionary Wordreference.com from Florida managed 28 total points more in its mobile-visibility than for desktop, which comes from having nearly 1,000 more mobile keywords in the top 10 than for a desktop search.

The British dictionary Cambridge.org also manages to make more out of its mobile visibility, at an increase of 43 total visibility points.

Two possible sources for this visibility increase may be the heavyweights Merriam-webster.com (-68 points for mobile vs. desktop) and Dictionary.reference.com (-74,66 points for mobile vs. desktop).

Here it is important to note that both of these domains are doing a good job overall, they just have a noticeable gap between their desktop and mobile visibility.

6) theguardian.com

One domain that stands out on our list of winning domains is theguardian.com. The British newspaper managed to gain 40 points in its mobile visibility, going from 130 points for desktop to 169 points for mobile.

Just to give you a feel for this number, WSJ.com has about 35 points of mobile visibility in total. Theguardian.com really rocks its mobile visibility.

TheGuardian vs. WSJ.com

10) Uptodown.com

This international download site from Spain shows an increase of 23% between its mobile and desktop visibility.

This case is interesting because the publisher allowed us access to their analytics data for the USA. The Spanish domain manages to gather 5.5 million users from the USA each month, of which 76% are mobile users, with a year-over-year increase of 132%.

Losers

1) Yellowpages.com

This well known site has a large discrepancy between its mobile and desktop visibility. Yellowpages.com has lost 90% of its visibility. The reason for this decrease is the simple fact that the mobile version for Yellowpages.com is hosted on the domain yp.com.

If we look at the difference between these two domains, the mobile-version still only has about 26 points of visibility, where the desktop-version has a visibility score of about 45. Therefore, Yellowpages.com has lost 43% between its mobile vs. desktop visibility.

yellow pages visibility

2) Etymoline.com

Etymoline.com managed to lose 50% of its keyword rankings between desktop and mobile searches. The loss in the top 10 is even more pronounced at 80%. This is happening because it does not have a mobile version. It also lost 72% of its mobile visibility on Google.co.uk.

3) Crackle.com

Showing interstitials on your mobile pages, where overlay ads take up most of the space on the page, is a very common mistake. Google even released a study on the negative impact of interstitials on search-behaviour, which showed that 70% of users abandoned mobile pages with interstitials.

crackle-interstitial

Crackle.com, for example, has a 76% lower visibility for mobile thanks to its use of interstitials. In this case, it’s interesting to note that the domain ranks for nearly the same number of keywords on mobile and desktop. It just ranks worse for the mobile keywords.

4) ESPNfc.us

This domain already showed up in our article about which US sites lost the most amount of Google visibility in 2015. It’s using both canonicals and hreflang markup together on its site and the following chart shows how both versions cannibalise each other.

espnfc-mobile-visibility

8) Merckmanuals.com

A similar problem can be observed with Merckmanuals.com, where this domain is cannibalised by Msdmanuals.com, which was on our mobilegeddon winners list for the UK.

Both domains rank in the US market and use a rel=”canonical” together with a rel=”alternate” markup.

source-merckmanuals-msdmanuals

5) Schockwave.com and 14) Coolmath-games.com

If a specific page is not available it should return a status code 404 (page not found) instead of just redirecting the user to the home page, regardless of the desktop or mobile version. All these redirects to the home page constitute soft-404 errors, which have a negative impact on the site.

Shockwave.com (-68%) and Coolmath-games.com (-55%), for example, redirect many of its pages which are not optimized for mobile use – because many of its products use Adobe Flash – to its mobile home page.

6) Inquisitr.com and 12) Lordantaylor.com

Lastly, we have those domains that look as though they are mobile-friendly, but which are not. Two examples are inquisitr.com (-66%) and lordandtaylor.com (-57%).

Conclusion

You have three ways to take care of this:

1) You can either use responsive design, which will show the same source code on the same URL for both desktop and mobile users and scale the site accordingly – this is what Google recommends you to use. In addition to this, not one of the losers on our list use responsive design.

2) Next you can use ‘dynamic serving’, where you stay on the same URL but make the server return a different HTML source-code depending on the device opening the page.

3) Finally, you can use a separate URL, be it on a subdomain (for example m.example.com) or a different domain altogether (as is the case for Yp.com and Yellowpages.com). For this option, the server needs to consider a lot of different factors: devices, resolution, models of devices, etc. and Google could have problems to understand all these set-ups.

Examples of where this causes problems can be seen with FBI.gov (-45%), Mbta.com (-50%), as well as Huffingtonpost.com and Huffpost.com, where both versions rank on the Google US search results. It only works well as long as the two versions are set-up correctly:

huffpost.com visibility

Winners and Losers Top 30

Mobillegeddon in USA chart

10 remarketing facts that will supercharge your PPC strategy

weird-facts-remarketing

Hey you guys! All these articles about the dangers of creepy remarketing make me want to barf.

I think advertisers who are scared of remarketing are either using remarketing all wrong, or have a poor understanding of the awesome power of remarketing.

I’ve been using remarketing at WordStream since 2012 and last year, we spent over $500,000 on these ads alone. Why?

Because they’re freaking awesome.

If you’re sitting on the fence and unsure about giving it a try, I’m going to give you a swift kick in the right direction with these 10 remarketing facts that will make you rethink your entire PPC marketing strategy.

Please note: this article was first published on the Wordstream blog and it was so darn helpful that we wanted to share it here.

1. Remarketing conversion rates INCREASE over time

Remarketing naysayers preach being very conservative with impression frequency caps and membership duration to avoid offending potential customers.

Wrong. Not with remarketing.

We’ve found that conversion rates actually increase the more users see an ad within remarketing campaigns. It’s true that click-through rates decline over time, but those people who do click on your ad, after having seen it a few times already, become twice as likely to convert!

Understand that people are busy and have other stuff going on in their life. Remarketing gives people a gentle reminder to finish what they started on your site, while reinforcing your branding and messaging to that user every time they see you around.

They’re getting to know you, and learning to trust you, and when they finally do have a free moment, they are increasingly likely to do business with you.

2. The whole remarketing “Creep Factor” is ridiculously overblown

Another reason why I’m so dismissive of remarketing-creep-factor-worry-warts is the notion of ad fatigue.

If your customer prospects are so creeped out by your ads, you would expect them to ignore them, right? Well if they’re so mad at your dumb ads, they certainly won’t bother clicking on them. It follows that a very easy way to determine if this assertion is true or false is to calculate ad fatigue.

Ad fatigue refers to the notion that the more times you see an ad, the less likely you are to click on it, because people tire of seeing the same thing over and over again. If users are mad or annoyed at your ads, they should fatigue at a faster rate.

Well, I looked at thousands of display ads and compared the impact of ad fatigue on remarketing display ads vs non-remarketing display ads (e.g. Managed Placements, Keyword Targeting, In-Market Segments, etc.) and guess what?

Those “creepy” remarketing ads fatigued at half the rate of non-remarketing targeted ads :

So if your remarketing ads are so “creepy,” why do people stay interested in them for twice as long as regular display ads, and convert at higher and higher rates with each incremental ad view?

And why is it that none of the “beware creepy remarketing” articles have any data to back up their arguments? Maybe it’s because the whole creep factor argument is baloney!

Also, remember that there’s no reason why you can’t rotate though multiple different display ads using remarketing to make your remarketing ads even more useful and interesting.

3. Facebook and Google Display Network offer the best reach

Where will you get the most bang for your remarketing buck? Right now, Google Display Network and Facebook offer the greatest reach for your remarketing campaigns.

GDN reaches 90% of Internet users worldwide, 65% of whom they reach every single day. More than a trillion impressions are served to over 1 billion users every month (source: Google). Meanwhile, Facebook has more than 1.4 billion users, over a billion of whom logged in yesterday (source: Facebook).

I always like to run my remarketing ads on both GDN and Facebook and find that both are incredibly powerful.

4. Remarketing is incredibly powerful for brand building

Guys, you know I’m crazy about both search ads and organic search, but they both suffer from this one small issue.

It’s very hard to build a brand using tiny text ads and organic search listings, which have a very limited amount of character space and don’t support logos and all the other visual elements that marketers typically use to build a brand.

Display remarketing is a fantastic way to build your brand because there’s so much more creative magic you can infuse into an image ad that will make your customers love and remember you.

I discovered the power of this a few years ago, when I realized the vast majority of our site traffic:

  • Came to us through non-branded organic searches,
  • didn’t convert,
  • and left and never came back.

We were awesome at getting people to our site, but totally sucked at getting them to remember us after they got here.

Enter remarketing.

remarketing-increases-brand-searches-return-traffic

Our remarketing campaigns for our PPC Grader were fairly aggressive and meant to convert people to trying it out. You can see the impact above, using direct traffic as a proxy for branded searches.

Just 18 months out, remarketing allowed us to increase our repeat visitors by 50%, boost conversion by 51%, and increase time on site by an insane 300%! Remarketing helped make our SEO 7x more awesome by keeping us in front of interested consumers and compelling them to take action.

5. Remarketing is an incredibly powerful CRO tool

The conventional notion of the marketing funnel is a totally outdated concept for CRO.

Today, you don’t have to go from impressions to clicks to conversions, losing people on your leaky landing pages. Let’s face it: the funnel is a desktop concept from 15 years ago, and we’re way past that now.

Today, consumers can parachute into your funnel at any stage. In fact, it’s more like a river in that your customers can flow in from any point, and they never really leave either, thanks to remarketing.

rethinking-the-marketing-funnel

Using remarketing and amazing new ad formats, you can cut out sections of the funnel entirely!

6. Quality Score exists on both GDN and Facebook

Repeat after me: I will just say no to ineffective low click-through rate strategies.

Trying to make your remarketing ads unattractive to discourage people from clicking in order to get “free impressions” is a Quality Score killer, which means you’ll get less impressions and pay more for the clicks you do get.

How important is this? Check it out:

cpc-vs-ctr-on-remarketing-display-network

On the Google Display Network, every 0.1% increase in CTR yields a 20% decrease in CPC! The same is true in reverse – decreases in CTR = increased CPC, which sucks.

On Facebook, Quality Score (or ‘Relevance Score’ as they call it) is even more important! A 1% increase in Post Engagement (people liking, commenting, or clicking on your promoted posts) results in an average 5% reduction in cost per engagement:

about-relevancy-score-on-facebook

Basically you could be paying as little as 1/5 of a penny for clicks, or $5.00+ for promoting low engagement posts.

Aiming for low CTRs just flat out sucks as a PPC strategy and it’s even truer in display and social remarketing.

Don’t do it. Instead, take advantage of what you know about Quality Score and aim for super-engaging, super-clickable remarketing ads targeting the right people. They’ll convert better and cost you way less.

Tip: images do way better than text and now, Google may even automatically convert your “text display ads” into what they’re calling Richer Text ads (which are actually image ads).

7. Search ads convert the highest but display ads aren’t far Behind

Obviously search ads have the highest conversion rates due to the high commercial intent inherent in someone executing a keyword search.

A few years ago, display ads were nothing to write home about. But today, thanks to remarketing and other advances in display and social ad targeting, they convert almost as good as search ads, and even better than search ads, in some industries.

Here’s some data from a few hundred WordStream customers (Note: this is NOT official Google data):

cost-of-remarketing-clicks-versus-google-search-clicks

Remarketing converts so well because past browsing history is an incredibly powerful predictive signal for future commerce activities. You’re often targeting the same people who were searching for stuff on Google – just targeting them at a slightly later time.

8. Remarketing clicks are ridiculously cheap

Search ads in super-competitive industries can cost several dollars or more per click – and that’s just the average (with some keywords costing more like $50 per click).

Display and social remarketing ad clicks by contrast might cost anywhere from 2-100x less. Again, here’s some example data from WordStream customers:

remarketing-conversion-rates-for-different-industries

In short, you’ll probably see higher conversion rates with search ads vs. display/social remarketing, but the cost per click will also be higher. If the higher conversion rate is offset by higher click prices, it’s possible that social/display remarketing could deliver higher ROI.

9. Remarketing isn’t limited to display and social

We’ve talked a lot about remarketing in display and social, but they aren’t the only game in town. RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) combines the intent of the search query with user context like location, device and time searched, but then it layers on browsing history, which makes for a super powerful combination.

rlsa-powerful-tool

On average, we’re finding that RLSA campaigns have 2x higher CTRs, 50% lower CPCs and convert at twice the rate of regular search campaigns!

10. ‘Super-Remarketing’ on Facebook & Twitter makes remarketing 10-100x more powerful

I love remarketing but it doesn’t make sense to target everybody who visits your site. Just because someone is interested in your products or services, it doesn’t mean they fit your target market. (Can they actually afford to buy your product?) Typically only around 2-4% of your remarketing cookie pool will convert to leads and sales.

So why do regular remarketing to everybody when you can do Super-Remarketing to just your target market instead?

In a nutshell, Super-Remarketing (a term I just invented right now, so don’t feel bad if you never heard of it) lets you filter your remarketing cookie pool based on thousands of social media demographic targeting options (age, life events, job titles, etc.) as well as recent purchase history and interests.

behold-super-remarketing

Currently Super-Remarketing is only supported on Twitter and Facebook’s ad platforms, but it’s so insanely powerful that I’m certain that Google will come up with something here in the near future.

Remarketing should make you rethink your entire PPC strategy

Remarketing is an essential component for paid search, social media and content marketers alike. It just makes everything work better.

Never let your prospects walk away or forget about you. Remarketing will save the day!

How brands are missing out by not allowing app indexing

app indexing for android

A new study suggests that only 20% of iOS apps and 30% of Android apps are able to support app indexing.

Here’s a brief introduction on app indexing to get started…

What is app indexing?

When someone searches on Google from their mobile, results can now be served direct from an app they have installed. When they click on the result, they have the option of seeing the page either on the mobile web or within the app itself.

App-indexing has been around for a couple of years, but only available to every publisher (on both iOS and Android) in 2015.

In order to allow Google to index your app, you need to allow ‘deep linking’, which basically means giving each page within your app a specific crawlable link. So when the app opens, a searcher is served relevant content rather than just the first screen of the app.

At the moment Android users will see app results even if they don’t have the app. This will likely happen for iOS users too in the near future.

Implementing deep-linking is relatively straightforward, there’s a detailed guide on how to it available from Searchmetrics here (registration required) and any publishers that haven’t done this yet are missing out.

In a study of the 100 most visible websites in Google US searches, Searchmetrics found that although 84% offer an Android App, only 30% of these had implemented app-indexing.

And then of the 88% that offer an iOS app, just 19% were found to be support app-indexing.

The study also looked at which sectors were most likely to allow deep linking to their mobile apps. Retailers in the fashion industry came top on both Android and iOS…

app indexing by industry android

app indexing by industry ios

Most companies in this sector were found to offer some type of app, with just 5% of apparel sites not offering an iOS app and 9% not offering an Android app.

Among the apparel retail sites that offer an iOS app, 32% have enabled app indexing, while for Android apps this is 31%.

Why should you allow app-indexing?

  • At the moment, because only a third of (or fewer) visible sites are using app-indexing, you’ll have a competitive advantage.
  • Google has stated that it’s a ranking factor, “If your app is indexed, Google will use the content within your app as a signal in ranking, not just your web content.”
  • App-indexing can encourage searchers to install your app if they deem the content you provide useful enough, and apps can be an excellent customer retention tool.
  • Apps that are indexed properly can form the ‘missing piece’ from your complete customer journey, now that you can see exactly what content is being accessed directly from search.
  • On average 20% of the apps a person installs on their device are only ever opened once. As Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics states, “App indexing is a fantastic opportunity to maximize the investment in your app – by helping to drive more traffic and interaction and potentially even conversions.”

The full Searchmetrics report can be downloaded from here (registration required)