How to plan and create evergreen content

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Last week I looked at the potential of evergreen content for SEO purposes, showing how it can work over time.

This time I’ll look at how to plan and create content like this, where to find ideas, and the different formats you can use.

Planning and idea generation

Ideas for content come from a range of sources, but here a few places to look for inspiration…

Matching your product to the content

Part of the challenge around evergreen is the nature of the product or service you’re looking to draw attention to.

For Search Engine Watch this isn’t too tricky. We’re about providing advice and insight into (primarily) search marketing, so that’s what we do.

However, it isn’t so easy for some businesses. Exciting brands like Lego can create (or get their fans to create) content easily thanks to the product.

But what if you’re selling pest control solutions, or insurance?

The deBugged blog from pest control firm Ehrlich is one example. Content such as guides to termites is evergreen, while there’s also some playful posts, insect brownie recipes for one.

Identify common user/customer problems

This is a great starting point for content creation as it ensures that the focus is on solving genuine issues.

Take a look at this from Repair Clinic. Its drop-down menus allow customers to navigate according to the problem they’re experiencing.

Now, this is a useful way to navigate, but it also reveals something about the process of creating content.

Either from keyword research, or more likely an analysis of common customer questions and issues, Repair Clinic has identified some of the reasons customers look for repair information.

It has then created the page to match the query, and produced some useful resources for customers.

From an SEO perspective, it works beautifully. I’ve taken a few of the common problems from the drop-down menu, and invariably you’ll see Repair Clinic in a prominent position.Repair Clinic SEO

So, Repair Clinic has found common user problems and created content which addresses those issues.

The fact that this content is easy to find in the SERPs should ensure that the company attracts plenty of relevant traffic, and sells a few spare parts.

Mining your data

Ideas for content are all around, and many are there in your site’s data.

For example, you could look at your site search data for common queries and issues which content could address.

Do your users’ on-site searches reveal issues that haven’t been addressed by your current content? Do any topics stand out?

What has worked before?

Look back through analytics data. Identify the evergreen posts you already have on your site.

This is easy enough, just take a look at the top content fro the last year or two. Are there posts with recurring traffic over that period?

ga evergreen

Evergreen content should look something like this:

evergreen meta tags

As we can see, it’s receiving a consistent amount of traffic over a long period of time, just over a year in this case.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be huge amounts of traffic. If the content is relevant to your products or services, the important thing is that it’s attracting the right kind of visitors.

Once you’ve identified your own evergreen content, think about what these pages have in common:

  • Headlines. Is there a pattern? In our list above, and other reports, common factors include compelling headlines, lists, and how-to guides.
  • Topics. What are the common themes and topics that perform well?
  • Article style. Are they stats based articles? Infographics? Long-form content?
  • Presentation. How are articles presented? I find lots of relevant charts, example screenshots and clear headings make an article more readable and hence more likely to become evergreen.

Look at social data

Using social tools such as buzzsumo you can identify the posts that perform well over time on social media.

This doesn’t necessarily equate to consistent traffic, but it quite often does and provides more inspiration.

Buzzsumo SEW

Search rankings

See which terms you’re ranking for and which pages are ranking well for those terms.

This should help you to identify the evergreen content that is already working, as well as providing ideas for new content.

seo evergreen

For ideas, I’ll often look for search terms where there is room for improvement. Maybe terms where rankings have slipped due to older content, or where we’re near the top of page two.

Updating and keeping content fresh

An easy way to create evergreen content, and one which follows on from the previous points, is to refresh and rewrite existing evergreen pages.

We’ve done this once or twice with SEW content. For example, this Facebook cheat sheet article from 2013 has been consistently popular, but the information within will change over time.

So, we created a social media image size infographic with more up to date information. It was published in December, so it’s early to judge whether or not it will be evergreen, but it has been popular so far.

Some sites will simply update the content and republish posts as new. It’s a tactic which can work and something I’ve experimented with in the past.

In short, with an update and a new publish date, you can attract extra traffic, links and shares, and it can boost the rankings for that page as Google sees fresh rather than refreshed content.

However, I find it more honest and transparent, and more useful for readers, to create new articles based on older content. You can always use the older pages to link to the new version, and vice versa.

Evergreen content formats

These article formats have worked well, and can be adapted for different sites and topics.

Go niche

Don’ be afraid to get into the detail on posts. Evergreen content isn’t all about popularity, it’s about delivering the right kind of traffic over time.

For example, a post on using redirects may seem niche to some, but for a site like this it can deliver consistent long tail traffic.

e.g: Guide to 301 redirects for SEO

How-to guides

How to guides fit very well with this site’s ethos, and work well over time as they provide practical guidance for users.

They also perform well in search for the same reason, as well as the fact that people will often append searches with ‘how to’.

seo internal linking

E.g: Internal linking for SEO: examples and best practices

Curation

Listing useful tools or stats adds value for users and creates a useful resource which keeps people coming back.

For example, this post on free SEO tools has been in the top 10 SEW posts for the past couple of years.

Lists

Some people may dislike them, but the truth is that lists work very well.

Indeed, they make up roughly 70% of our most popular articles over the past few years.

They work principally because they tell the potential reader that they will be easy to scan and digest, and also appeal to people’s curiosity.

E.g: 14 ways to reduce your site’s bounce rates

Go long-form

Longer articles tend to be more comprehensive and can provide readers with much of the information they need on a given subject.

There is a belief that the internet has destroyed people’s attention spans, and that longer articles are to be avoided, but I don’t subscribe to that.

Indeed, the Quartz curve is a good example. it found that articles of between 500 and 800 words weren’t performing as well.

The reason? More than 500 words but less than 800 is too long to be easily digestible yet too short to be in-depth. It’s a kind of no-man’s land.

quartz curve

While the exact word counts may differ, I’ve seen the same thing on sites I’ve worked on. So, this article is 1,336 words long…

In summary

There isn’t necessarily a magic formula for creating evergreen content, its more something to aim for.

You can create a comprehensive guide to a topic but, for various reasons, sometimes they just don’t work over time.

However, if you attempt to produce quality content with an eye on SEO that aspires to be evergreen, you’ll get there a lot of the time.

Which UK domains gained the highest increase in Google visibility?

visibility-quora.com

In a topsy-turvy year for SEM that saw ‘mobilegeddon’, the rise of machine learning, a shift towards the user experience and the dominance of the Knowledge Graph, let’s see who the eventual winners were in 2015.

IndexWatch has just published its annual visibility index showing which domains were the most successful in riding out the various algorithm storms.

Here are the top five:

1) Quora.com

Giving Google itself a run for its money in terms of being able to answer all of your vital (and not so vital) questions is the crowd-sourced Q&A site Quora.

According to IndexWatch, Quora’s URLs are most impressive and can rank for almost 100 top keywords on Google.

2) Wilko.com

The hardware chain where you can go by a hammer-drill, a packet of screws, some washing up liquid and a panettone is apparently the top domain on the list to benefit from Google’s Phantom update.

The Phantom update was a term given to an acknowledged update to Google’s core algorithm around 5 March last year that saw many websites lose between 20% – 60% of their visibility. The exact changes made to the algorithm remain a mystery.

3) MentalFloss.com

After a change from www.Mentalfloss.com to just Mentalfloss.com, the general upward trend of visibility for the humorous trivia site was replaced by an even bigger upward trend in the middle of 2015.

upward-trend-of-Mentalfloss

4) Zomato.com

Zomato provides exactly the kind of information that Google looks for when it serves localised results to hungry searchers, being as it contains restaurant reviews, user ratings, photos and scans of menus in varying degrees of quality.

zomato visibility

Much of its improved visibility success was down to Zomato’s purchase of urbanspoon.com, the content of which redirected to zomato.com from June 2015.

5) Wayfair.com

US based ecommerce business Wayfair Inc began its UK operations in 2010, and according to the index is another site that benefited from the Phantom update.

wayfair.com visibility
The remaining top 20 looks like this:

6) avclub.com +122,83%
7) encyclopedia.com +119,09%
8) spotify.com +117,71%
9) slate.com +117,06%
10) grammarist.com +108,69%
11) cinemablend.com +104,63%
12) rogerebert.com +104,34%
13) etonline.com +101,67%
14) macmillandictionary.com +97,10%
15) macworld.co.uk +96,62%
16) cambridge.org +88,40%
17) authoritynutrition.com +85,38%
18) musixmatch.com +82,25%
19) elle.com +80,37%
20) sainsburys.co.uk +79,86%

Visit the Sistrix blog to check out the full top 100.

Google doubles down on Product Listings Ads with expandable mega layout

expanded plas

Our eagle-eyed friends over at ChannelAdviser spotted a test that Google is conducting, which allows the user to expand the PLAs shown for any given search query.

The new interface includes an arrow icon in the bottom right corner of the product display panel. Click on it and the amount of listings shown will at least double.

Here’s what it looks like:

If this test is rolled out as a new feature, then it will result in a lot of organic and paid text ads being edged out of the picture, with PLAs almost completely taking over the top of the page.

At any rate, it is clear that this should increase search marketers’ focus on optimising PLAs, as the other listing types will have been usurped.

As one of up to 16 ads being shown, this is potentially great news for brands that aren’t chasing – or able to attain – the very top listings. Ads beyond ninth place, that would otherwise not be shown, will now feature prominently at the top of the search results. Win.

That being said, it will be harder to get the attention of the searcher, given the competition and lack of elbow-room.

As Channel Advisor says:

“If the new layout becomes commonplace, CTRs could be affected, since each ad in a unit is now competing with as many as 15 other products.”

PLAs in demand among retailers

Interest from retailers in Google Shopping and its PLAs is fast increasing, according to data published by ChannelAdvisor in December. The study is based on data from thousands of retailers.

It found that Google Shopping accounted for 31.7% growth in the holiday season, compared with the previous year. That’s almost double the growth rate of Amazon, which is the next best performing individual third party marketplace.

The study also states that Google Shopping/Product Listing Ads have an average conversion rate of 3.19%, down from 3.61% in December 2014.

This kind of test comes as no surprise, as Google moves ever closer towards a one-stop shop, serving up results that give the user all of the information they need, without having to click onto another site. The PLAs of the future could well become one-click conversion events.

It also reflects Google’s need to show more paid results, to move the revenue needle. The next step could be for it to go upwardly responsive, for those of us with large monitors…

I jest. Kind of.

Making the most of the PLA format may have been one of Google’s New Year’s Resolutions, as it has also integrated them into its image search, according to this post from Jennifer Slegg.

What do you think? Have you managed to replicate the test? How are PLAs working out for you?

Introducing a new real-time marketing metric: ‘EvE’ (effort vs engagement)

keith floyd

Does the world really need another metric to measure performance? Unfortunately, I think we do, as one of the biggest issues in marketing is a lack of agility. We need new metrics to help speed up our reaction times.

With that in mind, allow me to introduce ‘EvE’, which is a loose, ill-defined, highly immature real-time marketing metric. I’d love some feedback as this is very much a work in progress.

EvE is a measure of how much bang you’re getting for your buck. You want maximum bang for minimum buck. In most cases, time is money, and effort / time can be measured in cold hard cash. Are your efforts paying off? Is there anything you can do to ensure success?

I’ve always had some sense of whether the thing I’ve worked on has underperformed, or outperformed, and increasingly I monitor this in real time, mainly because it’s possible to do so. I’m really just trying to figure out if something was worth the effort.

I instinctively use ‘EvE’ thinking primarily to measure content marketing, but it applies to marketing more broadly, as well as things like conversion rate optimisation, and UX. In fact, it applies to all kinds of things.

EvE could also apply to that three-course meal you’re going to lovingly prepare for your dinner guests. If it goes right, you’ll hear a lot of comments about how delicious it is, and how lovely it smells, and how did you make it, and where did you find such incredible ingredients, and oh we must really come over more often!

If it goes badly, there will normally be a few polite murmurings, and then silence. You’ll wish you just ordered pizza. Cooking really wasn’t worth the bother, nor the expense, and you could have spent the afternoon doing something else.

That’s EvE in a nutshell. You want people to come over more often and to say nice things about your efforts, and to feel like it was a worthwhile endeavour.

It’s a bit like that in business, don’t you think? You want lots of repeat customers who do your marketing for you by becoming advocates, and recommending your products and services (the most powerful form of marketing there is).

Why we need something new

There are dozens of ways to measure success, but many of them are lagging indicators. In other words, they reflect the state of play once the results are in. This is all very well, but we need more leading indicators in our lives.

Leading indicators help us to predict future success, or warn us about imminent failure. All kinds of leading indicators are used by goal-orientated people to see if they’re on-course, or heading for the rocks. They give us the opportunity to react.

EvE is a blend. It is one part lagging indicator (‘effort’) and one part leading indicator (‘engagement’), but over time I think it will become much more aligned to the latter, as engagement (which is broadly a synonym for ‘performance’) can be measured in real-time.

For example, if this post achieves a certain number of social shares within a certain timeframe then I know it will be a hit, relative to other posts on this site. I also know that it will continue to attract shares (and page impressions, and comments, and new inbound links, etc) in the days and weeks ahead.

If, however, things go the other way, I can consider doing something about it. I could do some paid social, or get in touch with some of my influencer buddies to spread word. I could push it around to relevant link sharing sites. I could start a fight with somebody who I know will disagree with it. I could create a visualisation to explain EvE in less than 1,000 words. I could spin it out into other content formats, such as slideshows, webinars, videos, etc.

And so on.

Building momentum

What we’re really talking about here is engagement velocity. EvE seeks to measure engagement velocity in real time.

Content is ‘alive’ for a while, and at some point it will naturally fade out. Or at least that’s how it should be. If you’re busy creating content that doesn’t reach the average lifespan of an article, then you seriously need to consider whether it was worth the effort. Lifespan can be measured in impressions, comments, shares, downloads… whatever floats your particular boat.

You also need to spot the outliers and learn from them. Figure out why certain blog posts or videos outperform. More importantly, take a look at the ones that underperform, especially if you’re spending a lot of effort on them. If they don’t have a tactical value, then is it worth investing in any more of them? Remember that as the amount of effort increases, so must the engagement.

The EvE metric, if used in real-time as a leading indicator will help you spot whether or not something needs – or merits – a push. You can use it to predict performance, considering how something should be performing at any given point.

Sometimes you need to light a fire underneath your efforts. If you spend a month working on a new piece of content (or marketing campaign, or product feature, or 72-course dinner for your guests) then hopefully it will be good enough to attract enough attention to merit the effort. But, if needed, you can go the extra mile to promote it, unless it’s clearly a dud.

This is why EvE is different from ROI. It is meant to be more fluid, and less final. Real-time marketing is all about agility, and if you track EvE you should be in a position to move the ROI needle.

Calculating ‘EvE’

I don’t want to be too prescriptive with regards to scoring systems, but suggest that you can use absolute numbers, points, weighted averages, and multipliers to come up with some meaningful figures.

The key is to know a few things in advance. All of these things can be baked into your calculations.

Effort

  • The cost
  • The amount of time spent
  • Output
  • People

Cost is the primary – and most straightforward – measure of ‘effort’. When you’re ready to release a new piece of content you’ll have a pretty accurate sense of how much it cost. At this point, you’ve invested what it takes to produce and edit the content, and as such you’ll know what it takes for that effort to pay off. Cost is more easily measured when using freelancers, agencies and contractors.

Time spent seems straightforward on the face of it, and is an alternative to cost (though you can use both). Time is inherently linked to cost, but is perhaps more useful for evaluating the efforts of in-house teams, especially if you don’t want to get into proportionate salary calculations. Was it worth spending an hour, a day, a week or more on that thing? Worth it, as in, should you do it again?

Output is the thing that was produced. Everything is relative. Different content formats have different costs, on average, and they perform differently. A video should be compared with a video, a blog post with a blog post. Adjust your benchmarks, targets and goals accordingly. It’s worth adding that some things are more aligned to your macro goals than others.

People. This follows on from ‘time spent’. What was the opportunity cost of that particular person doing that particular piece of work? What else could they have been working on? It is crucial that you use your team wisely, especially your star players.

Engagement

  • The real-time targets
  • The goal

Targets. How will you know if you’re on track? For content, real-time targets might be things like concurrent users onsite, or impressions or comments, or shares or likes, or influencer mentions, or inbound links, or downloads, or leads. What is par, one hour, one week, or one month after publication?

Goals can be strategic or tactical. This is very much a case of horses for courses. You’ll need to figure this out for yourself, thinking about the ultimate goals of your business. How is the thing you’ve worked on contributing to those goals?

You can track all of this stuff as it happens, and react as necessary.

A scoring framework

I think the best way to measure is EvE is to put together a scoring framework, based on average costs (effort) and average performance benchmarks (engagement). The higher the EvE score, the better.

EvE score = engagement divided by effort

A blog post might be given an effort score of 100. The effort reflects time and cost to produce the post, relative to other outputs (e.g. video = 500, whitepaper = 2,500, etc).

For that blog post to break even, it must also achieve an engagement score of 100. This is the anticipated performance, and value, relative to similar content. In other words, the goal.

Its EvE score is engagement divided by effort. In this case, that’s 100/100, which gives it an EvE score of 1. And that’s okay, because 1 is par.

The effort score

Using the above examples we can compare different outputs. A video costs five times as much effort to produce, vs a blog post. A whitepaper costs five times a video, and 25 times as much as a blog post in effort.

However, these are averages. 100 points is the average effort score for a blog post. That might be akin to three hours of a freelance writer’s time.

It could be that the same writer puts together a post in half of the time, and charges you half the fee. We can halve the effort score to reflect that.

The engagement score

Let’s say an average blog post pulls in 5,000 impressions. If a post hits that mark we can award it the full 100 points, and an EvE score of 1 (100/100 = 1).

If it underperforms and reaches just 4,000 impressions then it gets just 80 points, and an EvE score of 0.8 (80/100).

But let’s say it only took half the time to produce. We halve the effort score (to 50) and the EvE score rises to 1.6 (80/50). It took 50% less time and money but still achieved 80% of the goal. You still have resources at your disposal to chase down the other 20% (or more).

Real-time EvE

In a real-time environment, it gets more interesting. EvE becomes a leading indicator of ROI, rather than a relative calculation of ROI, which occurs after the fact.

For EvE to work in real-time, you need to set some targets (I like to think of them as checkpoints) and stay tuned-in as things unfold. By doing so you’ll be able to react, if you need to.

Social shares are a particularly strong leading indicator of content performance. Let’s say 400 shares after 24 hours is the average for par performance for a blog post. If your post accrues 800 shares you should be in for a good time. If you struggle to reach 100 shares then something may be amiss. You can adjust your real-time EvE scores accordingly.

Multipliers and weightings will come into play. 800 shares might be worth more than double, for example, as the network effect, buzz and viral momentum can propel a blog post much further than you think. And perhaps 100 shares isn’t quite as bad as you fear.

At this point the formula will probably need to be finessed on a case-by-case basis. What you track and how you score things will depend on your macro and micro goals.

Audit

There’s one other thing that EvE does: it makes you think about what’s working, and what’s not. In order to put a scoring framework together you need to undertake an EvE audit, to benchmark effort vs. engagement across all that you do.

There’s a bit more to say, but I’ll throw this out there now for feedback. Do let me know if you think it’s workable, or if you put together a real world example based on the above methodology.

I’d also be interested to hear of any other real-time marketing metrics and KPIs that you’re using as leading indicators of future success. I’m keen to explore this area in more detail.

Five of the most interesting SEM news stories of the week

theatlantic-losses

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

This week: Pandas, Periscopes and Paid search.

Google integrates Panda into the core ranking algorithm

As our own Chris Lake reported this week, there has been a new roll-out of Panda, and “it’s a biggie.” Google has made Panda part of its core ranking algorithm, meaning that it will be paying more attention to site quality signals than ever before.

There’s loads more information in the above linked post, but one of the most interesting bits is Google’s comment that, “content owners shouldn’t ask how many visitors they had on a specific day, but rather how many visitors they helped.”

Panda update leads to search gains and losses for online publishers

According to a new analysis by Searchmetrics, this week’s Google search algorithm update has meant big changes in how websites currently rank.

There have been visibility gains and losses for many sites, including TheAtlantic.com, GQ.com, Newyorker.com, Economist.com and Time.com, for both desktop and mobile device results.

One of the biggest losers is The Atlantic, with old URLs that ranked for brand keywords and entities dropping in the SERPs.

Google outpacing Facebook in spend growth

According to IgnitionOne’s Q4 2015 Digital Marketing Report (registration required), Google is winning the battle against Facebook in terms of throwing money around the internet.

Between November 26th – December 31st, Google surpassed Facebook in growth and conversions, seeing an increase of 37% in programmatic display advertising spend and a 34% increase in conversions. Facebook saw an increase of 22% in growth and 17% in conversions.

The cost of Facebook ads experienced a drop, with eCPMs down -6% YoY. Whereas Google saw an eCPM growth of 16%. The report suggests this is largely down to fewer (but larger) ads being shown to users.

facebook-vs-google-display-graph

US display ad spend will overtake search ad spend in 2016

As we reported this week, digital display ad spend will surpass search ad spend in the US for the first time ever in 2016.

eMarketer has revealed that the categories of video, sponsorships, rich media and “banners and other” will account for the largest share of digital ad spending (47.9% – worth $32.17 billion)

  • Within the display category, one in five dollars budgeted will go to “banners and other”
  • Video will command 14.3% of ad spend, up from 12.8% in 2015
  • Rich media and video will also see spending growth, with 36.4% and 28.5% respectively.

Twitter to show live Periscope videos directly in your timeline

After last week’s episode where Twitter mooted a lengthening of the tweet character length, this week on the series known as ‘Twitter makes increasingly terrible decisions’, the flak-taking social channel will bring live, auto-playing Periscope videos to your timeline.

Until now, Periscope could only be accessed through a separate app, but as of this week, users of Twitter’s iOS app can enjoy non-stop live-streaming action when they least expect/want it.

dkny-periscope

Looking good!

Does native advertising really work?

pages-google-analytics

I’ll set out my stall straight away, I don’t particularly like native advertising.

However, I’m seeing this as an exercise in trying to dispel my own confirmation bias.

I would love nothing more than to rant endlessly about an advertising practice I’ve described before as no better than “autoplay video, Spotify ads and downloading spyware onto your browser” or, horror of horrors, downloading a U2 album into your iTunes.

But… as you will have noticed from time to time, we run sponsored articles on SEW and I would come across as somewhat hypocritical. Just like how I accused pop-up ads of being “contemptible” yesterday and yet you were probably presented with one on your first visit here.

The balancing of user-friendliness, our own editorial judgement and the need to make some actual money is a difficult thing to get right. I’ll save the pop-up conversation for another time though, let’s get back to native advertising…

Despite any personal feelings, they are part of our business model for the time being, and they help this site continue to exist.

There’s no doubt that we’ve gone on far too long expecting everything on the internet to be free, advertising needs to exist in order to support the existence of the sites you love visiting so much. The sooner we retrain people’s expectations, the better.

But, display ads don’t really work anymore; overlays, push-downs and full-screen pop-outs just piss people off. Is there an argument to say that sponsored content is a better alternative? Surely an article among the rest of your content, that carries some advertorial leaning is better than endless interruptions from display ads?

Sponsored content NEEDS to be clearly labelled as such, carry the same editorial tone as the rest of the site and be just as informative, useful or entertaining as the non-sponsored posts on the site.

But there in lies the problem, if you’re scrolling down a homepage and see ‘sponsored content’ you’re going to ignore it, just like you’ll ignore the banner or MPU.

And why the hell would you read an article on the best debut albums of 2015 by Microsoft?

“Most Clumsily Shoehorned Product Placement of the Year” Award goes to the NME: https://t.co/lzE2EDerNX pic.twitter.com/MABXfm89Qm

— dan barker (@danbarker) November 5, 2015

Or am I completely wrong? Maybe people don’t give nearly as much of a damn as I presume? Let’s take a look at as many different stats as I can possibly find to see whether native advertising really works or not.

I promise to remain impartial.

Native advertising stats

Over at Inc. there’s an infographic by MDG (ps… there’s a great big ol’ pop-up when you click that link) with loads of juicy stats.

  • 70% of people would rather learn about products through content than traditional ads
  • 52% of people who click on native ads have a higher purchase intent then those clicking banner ads (34%)
  • Forbes claimed that 20% of its 2013 revenue came from its native ad platform

The following stats come from Dedicated Media:

  • Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads
  • Native ads generate an 82% brand lift
  • 32% of consumers say they would share a native ad with their friends and family

What does this tell us so far? People prefer native ads to banners mainly, and that they can work as a brand awareness tool as well as generating revenue.

I reported last week that fewer native ads are due to run in 2016. 45% of marketers say they’re going to use native ads in 2016, a dip of 5% from 2015, but I’m not sure this really reveals much about their worth to visitors.

But hey, while we’re poking around for stats, why don’t we reveal some data from under our own hood.

The following figures from Google Analytics are for our last sponsored post, published October 7.

With 3,695 unique pageviews accrued between publication date and 13 January, this is only 1,000 unique pageviews less than our top performing post that same week, but between 1,500 – 2,000 above other guest posts.

So in terms of traffic, it did very well. As for the content itself.. well, you can judge for yourself, but personally I think that although it does contain some insight, it falls too heavily on the ‘advertorial’ side of native advertising.

Are you likely to trust a review where the subject is the sponsor? Then again, this is no different to any brand’s marketing copy trying to show off the benefits of the product, if you’re in the market for this type of thing, then great! But then again, are you coming to Search Engine Watch to buy a rank-checking tool, or to get independent, objective advice on which is the best one to buy?

It’s here that I return to my earlier thoughts, surely this sponsored article is still better than a display ad though? It’s less irritating or invasive. One thing’s definitely for sure however, the article should have been clearly labelled as ‘sponsored’ at the top, as this information isn’t revealed until you scroll to the bottom. This is where native advertising becomes as irritating as pop-ups, people want complete transparency about the motive behind they’re reading.

People don’t necessarily mind seeing adverts, in fact some people will go out of there way to see them, so I don’t believe there’s any need to ‘cloak them’ as anything else.

So I’ve not really drawn much of a conclusion other than native ads probably aren’t going away anytime soon, people don’t really seem to mind them, they can be as successful as non-sponsored content and with a little bit more adhesion to guidelines (transparency, quality content) they don’t have to put people off coming back to your site.

Next week: an argument in defence of YouTube pre-roll ads.

Not really.

Competition time: win tickets to Connect, our two day search event

ritz-carlton-miami

As you’ll hopefully already be aware, Search Engine Watch has launched a brand new search event, Connect, taking place on the beach during 4-5 February 2016 at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we’re bringing together all the best and brightest of the search marketing industry to discuss how to thrive in the new customer-centric landscape, as well as having a big party on the beach.

You should come to! There will be 500+ of your peers, from SEO specialists, digital marketers, webmasters, developers, business leaders and industry professionals joining enjoying two days of sun, sea and search in Miami.

Tickets are still available, with early bird rates expiring on Friday 15 January. You can register here.

Or… you could win a ticket to Connect in one of our Twitter and Facebook contests running next week!

Every day from Tuesday 19 till Friday 22, we’ll be giving away one ticket per day to the lucky winner of our “Fill in the Blanks” contest. This will be run via our Twitter and Facebook, so give them a follow Like and keep an eye on them from Monday.

We’ll reveal the winners and publish the best responses to the contest in a post right here on SEW on Tuesday 26 January.

Now here’s the important terms and conditions bit that everyone loves and pays every attention to…

  • To enter, just reply to our “fill in the blanks” tweet, or comment on our Facebook “fill in the blanks” post when they’re published next week.
  • Winners will be picked based on the quality, accuracy, insightfulness or possible hilariousness of their responses.
  • The prize is one ticket to the two-day Connect event. Transport and accommodation won’t be provided.
  • If you win, but can’t attend the event, no alternative prize or cash can be offered. So don’t even ask, you cheeky rascal.
  • You can tweet or comment as many times as you like, but you can only win once.
  • The contest isn’t open to employees of Search Engine Watch, ClickZ or Contentive, or their relatives. Sorry mum.
  • No entries sent will be considered after Midnight (EST) Friday 22 January.
  • Winners will be notified on Tuesday 26 January.

Good luck!