ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Kenshoo

Kenshoo company profile

Search Engine Watch sister publication ClickZ recently launched an innovative new series of buyers guides, created with the aim of cutting through the complexity of the martech landscape to help our readers make better decisions about vendors.

The first in the series is dedicated to bid management platforms. With more than $90 billion spent on paid search in 2017, these software packages play a vital role in deriving maximum value from a brand’s digital media budget.

The role of a bid management platform has changed significantly over the past decade, in line with the increasing sophistication of the digital media industry. Although the foundations of a successful paid media management platform remain rooted in the effective spending of AdWords budgets, the modern marketer also requires support for social media advertising, attribution modeling, and cross-channel strategy.

Earlier this week, we profiled Acquisio, one of the leading bid management platforms featured in our buyers guide. In this article, we’re going to look at another leader in the bid management space: Kenshoo.

Kenshoo Company Profile

Kenshoo has been a leader in the bid management space since 2006 and its position as a third-party vendor allows space to innovate and work with clients without the potential for bias to enter the equation. This independence also allows Kenshoo to pursue new, promising channels and functionality that makes it easier for clients to work across channels – scaling, shifting budget, and measuring results across them.

Our survey revealed Kenshoo to be the market leader for enterprise-level digital media campaigns.

Although this is a highly competitive industry with many worthy contenders, Kenshoo shaded the assessment categories that matter most to advanced search marketers. These included cross-channel campaign management, strategic insight, and paid search automation. The overall scores can be seen in the screenshot below, with 5 being the highest possible score:

Kenshoo performance

Furthermore, Kenshoo’s Creative Manager for search and social adds a further dimension to the platform and places the company in a prominent position as search evolves into a more visual marketing medium.

Overall, Kenshoo’s focus is on developing technologies that make a tangible difference to their customers’ businesses.

The usage levels of its features are monitored constantly and the company’s sizeable team of engineers focuses on delivering the innovations that its customer base craves. It is this approach that leads to developments including highly effective performance forecasts, real-time reporting dashboards, and the ability to load high volumes of campaign data almost instantly.

Kenshoo: The ClickZ and SEW customer survey

Throughout the search industry‘s evolutionary process, Kenshoo has remained at the forefront of innovation. Within our customer surveys, vendor interviews, and expert consultation, Kenshoo was a consistently high scorer and was roundly praised for the features it provides for large, complex accounts.

The three areas in which Kenshoo received its highest scores in our community survey were:

kenshoo

In fact, Kenshoo was the leading scorer out of all platforms in our survey in the cross-channel and bid management categories.

A particular highlight was Kenshoo’s adoption of audience management for prospecting and
remarketing across Facebook and Google. This helps its clients to nurture their audience lists and gain maximum returns on their data.

Due to the development of the industry from a keyword-led approach to intent-driven audiences, this will be a core consideration for brands assessing the vendor landscape.

Search is about much more than bottom-funnel acquisition nowadays, with the advent of much more varied visual formats and the ongoing shift to video. Kenshoo’s support for emerging media formats and channels was seen as a core strength of the technology, particularly its early adoption of both Pinterest and Amazon advertising.

These campaigns can be synthesized into one strategy alongside Search, Shopping, and Social campaigns to provide strategic insight into overall performance. A natural extension of this category, and an area of increasing focus within the industry, is the availability of attribution models that elucidate campaign spend and returns by channels.

Once more, Kenshoo was among the highest scorers in this category as it is host to a range of attribution models and allows for a degree of customization by marketers, based on their company’s weighting of each channel’s significance.

Kenshoo’s bid management algorithms that deliver improved returns on cross-channel budgets also received very high scores in our survey. Recent architectural changes enable clients to analyze millions of keywords in a matter of seconds with no volume limits, a significant benefit when managing large, complex campaigns.

One highlight from the vendor interviews was the ease of use of their new Budget Manager, which allows clients to visually model a range of future scenarios based on their planned media spend across multiple channels, objectives, audiences, product categories and geographies. This capability allows marketers to plan more frequently and to quickly get answers to questions about the impact of their budget.

It is also worth noting that Kenshoo was among the three highest-scoring platforms for client support in our survey. This was driven by the company’s focus on providing expert support for enterprise accounts, with customers citing both the availability and the knowledge of their representatives as notable strengths. Kenshoo also has a large research team, with whom clients can work to dig deeper into search data and uncover new insights.

ClickZ overview: Kenshoo

Kenshoo is an effective technology that contains a multitude of advanced features that will help marketers extract maximum value from their media budget. Moreover, it provides additional value on top of the core bid management algorithms that marketers have come to expect.

By focusing on where the industry is headed and developing features that provide clients with a competitive advantage, Kenshoo looks poised to maintain its position as a market leader in this field for some time to come.

To learn more about our readers’ evaluation of the different bid management platforms featured, follow this link to download the Buyers Guide to Bid Management Tools on ClickZ.

Eight SEO ladies give their advice on being a woman in search

Like many tech and tech-adjacent industries, SEO is a largely male-dominated field.

Relatively few statistics exist on the exact gender split within the search industry, but a Moz 2015 Online Marketing Industry Survey put the percentage of men working in SEO at close to 70%.

SEM was a little more even gender-wise with around 60% men working in search marketing, while PPC was even more male-dominated, with the survey finding that some 80% of PPC professionals were men.

Image: Moz

Even without the numbers, it’s fairly obvious to anyone who works within SEO that it’s a majority male industry – from the speaker line-ups at events, to the rosters at companies, to the bylines on industry blogs.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of hugely successful and brilliant women working in SEO, because there are. But there are still comparatively fewer of them.

What do the women who work in SEO think about the gender division within the industry? Do they notice it or feel that it affects their work? Do they think that women in SEO need to do anything differently to stand out? And what advice would they give to other women working in the field?

In honor of International Women’s Day 2018, we wanted to highlight the perspectives of women working in SEO, and how – if at all – they think gender affects the industry and the work that they do. Search Engine Watch spoke to eight successful ladies in SEO to find out their thoughts and advice on being a woman in SEO.

Sam Charles, Founder of Float Digital

Sam Charles is an SEO consultant with more than seven years’ experience working in the digital industry.

In 2016 she founded her own agency, Float Digital, which aims to demystify the art of SEO for businesses, particularly small businesses. She has been nominated at the UK Search Awards, and featured in The Drum’s ‘50 under 30′ list in 2017, which celebrates young women making waves in digital industries.

Charles got her start in SEO in her early twenties after studying advertising at university, working first at a branding design and web development agency, before moving on to manage the marketing at Australia’s largest professional haircare and skincare company.

“Nobody really told me what SEO was but my daily tasks revolved around blogger outreach and creating content based on keywords,” Charles recalls. “Once I moved back to England in 2012, I picked up the first copywriting job I could find, and it was only then, I was introduced to the lovely world of SEO, and suddenly everything I had been doing made sense.”

Charles says that she didn’t initially notice the gender disparity in digital marketing, as her first few jobs were at companies that had plenty of women on their payroll. “It was only when I moved away from content creation and focused on improving my technical SEO skills, that I felt I was in a male-dominated industry,” she says.

“Attending events such as Brighton SEO and engaging with communities online, it’s clear there are more men working in SEO than women.”

However, Charles doesn’t feel as though her gender has been a hindrance in the industry – possibly because her name makes people assume that they’re working with a man. “Too many times I’ve turned up to a meeting or answered the phone and I’ve been greeted with “I thought you were going to be a man”.”

With that said, she emphasizes: “People’s respect for you isn’t based on gender. The last few agencies I’ve worked in have celebrated women, and this sentiment is echoed in online circles, too.”

Charles says that the advice she would give to women in SEO wouldn’t be any different to the advice she would give anyone else getting started in the industry. “There’s no tips or advice I would give to women in SEO because we, as women, are no more or less than our male counterparts.

“Male or female, if you work in SEO there are two pieces of advice I’d offer: learn every day and be completely fearless when it comes to engaging with online communities, speaking at events or chasing clients.

“That said, to me, there’s nothing more empowering than meeting other women in search. There are meetups and lunches especially for women in business, digital or SEO. If this sounds like something you’d benefit from, do a quick search in your area and go along to one. Every event like this I’ve been to has been so welcoming.”

Dewi Nawasari, European Head of SEO at Monster

Dewi Nawasari is a hugely experienced SEO with close to twelve years of industry work under her belt. She jumped straight into SEO as a graduate with a degree in Business Supply Chain Management, landing a job as a Natural Search Optimization Analyst doing link-building for an agency. From there, she worked her way up the industry, and is now the European Head of SEO at recruitment company Monster.

Nawasari reflect that SEO was “not the easiest industry to start in” as a woman. “I remember at the earlier years of my career, coming to any industry event and being one of the few women who attended.

“There were occasions when I was not heard or taken as seriously as the men in my then-workplace, who had formed their exclusive circle of authority. But by the same token, I was really lucky to have also came across men in the industry who confided in my ability purely as a person. They are now some of my dearest friends.

“Do I think women have to do anything differently in order to stand out? The answer is yes and no.

“Yes, because I think women have to stop selling themselves short and start communicating their brilliance and expertise with one hundred percent confidence. Being willing to make mistakes or say something wrong is the only way to find success!

“No – because women should just be women. Never think that you have to fulfil certain stereotypes in the industry.

“Women tend to be quite humble about our achievements, and refuse credit beyond what we feel we deserve. This quality truly brings balance to any workplace because when women are part of the team, they make sure that the team work together to a high standard of performance.”

Nawasari’s advice for other women trying to make their way in the industry is, “Being credible, humble and over-communicating are your weapons.

“Even when you have a slightly rough start to the career, always ensure that you research, analyse, and know your work inside-out before presenting it to anyone. Once you have presented your work, share and over-communicate it – do not sell yourself short! Keep at it and you’ll be incredibly proud when you climb the ladder because of pure merit.

“Oh, and of course, don’t forget to congratulate and clap hard when you see a fellow woman succeed!”

Amanda DiSilvestro, Writer for HigherVisibility and Marketing Manager at Workshops for Warriors

Amanda DiSilvestro has spent seven years working in the marketing industry as a content editor, writer and marketing manager, and is one of the most popular and prolific writers here at Search Engine Watch.

She got her start in the industry through content marketing and worked her way up to a management position in SEO. “While it took several years, I found it to be a great foundation and path forward,” DiSilvestro says.

“I have found throughout my career that ghost writing opportunities are plentiful, and while this is a great way to really dig into SEO and learn the industry, it’s important to balance ghost writing with writing under your own byline. In short, don’t get too comfortable writing for other people – I see this happen all the time!

“Big websites like Search Engine Watch can seem intimidating, but if you reach out and express your passion for the topic and desire to write with your own byline, even if you don’t have years and years of experience, you will find success. At a certain point, it turns into a domino effect and you get more and more opportunities to show off your expertise through content writing.

“The community of women SEOs is great as well, so don’t be afraid to reach out to those you admire.”

Lexi Mills, Managing Partner at Shift6

As a specialist in both PR, a typically female-dominated field, and SEO, a largely male-dominated field, Lexi Mills has a unique perspective on gender in her professional life – she is simultaneously in the majority, and the minority, in both of her intersecting fields.

A digital marketing expert who has won multiple awards in the course of her career, Mills got her start in digital marketing as a graduate working in the Brighton nightlife industry, who convinced the company director to let her manage the company’s marketing and promotion online.

“I learned SEO way before I even knew what SEO was,” she recalls.

Working as a woman in the digital marketing industry, Mills says that she wasn’t always aware of whether people were biased against her because of her gender. “I have a couple of other biases that I have to champion – I’m very petite, I’m female, and I used to look very young for my age.

“Ageism was probably a bigger issue for me – when you’re someone who has worked super hard to get super good at something, and you walk into a room, people think, ‘I don’t want a kid working on this.’ Those were far bigger issues for me.

“I’m sure there was gender bias, but I tended to put things down to those issues a lot more.”

When she ran up against bias in her work as a professional SEO, Mills says that she found it more effective to approach the situation with gentle humor, which tended to be more successful in swaying people’s unconscious prejudices.

“By choosing to believe that people meant well, that they didn’t mean to be biased – even when they were – it changed how I dealt with them.

“I would walk into a meeting room with a client, and someone would say, ‘Oh, I’ll have a tea! And I’ll have a coffee, two sugars!’

“I would go and get the teas and the coffees, come back in, put the tray down, and say, ‘Guys, I specialize in SEO and PR, but I’ve done my very best with the tea and coffee.’

“And these guys would look mortified! But then I’d giggle, and I’d laugh with them – because the reality is, their assumption that their SEO specialist was going to be male and older is actually statistically correct; and these are statistically-driven people. You could say it was gender bias, but it was a statistically accurate assumption to make.

“And instead of me getting angry about it, if I made them giggle, there was a bond that formed – because they didn’t mean it. Or I chose to believe that they weren’t intending to be biased. And they probably came out not thinking that the next time they walk into a meeting room, they’re going to order tea and coffee off a young female, presuming that they’re not the specialist.”

Mills stresses that she has never identified as a “woman in search” or a “woman in tech”, preferring to think of herself as a “person who works in search”. Nevertheless, she believes that women in the industry have to be more aware of how they present themselves, as this can sometimes cause them to meet with more resistance professionally.

“At least five years ago, if you got up on stage wearing a bright pink dress, that would have caused a bunch of fairly unpleasant tweets,” she says. “It makes you look different.

“And while there’s nothing wrong with someone wanting to wear very feminine clothing – at all – it might mean they have to fight a little harder. And maybe they want to put that energy into doing such awesome work that they’re subconsciously changing people’s perception of women.”

She also advises women in the industry to “recognize when it’s time to move rooms. If the room you’re in is biased – go make a better room.

“I move between different projects with different clients, and sometimes I’ll fight that battle, but other times I just think, ‘Hey. I’m going to go to your competitor and kick ass.’”

“As women, the way we’re socialized from a young age means that we develop different language behaviors, different ways of doing things – and that’s okay. You should take those advantages, and play to your strengths.

“Take stock, give back, help others, and be fierce.”

Chelsea Blacker, Co-Founder and Managing Director of BlueGlass

Chelsea Blacker is a hugely experienced digital marketer and the Managing Director of SEO and content marketing agency BlueGlass.

She has worked in SEO for more than 10 years, and got her start in the industry doing SEO for a small personal blog at university, before becoming the assistant to an SEO consultant – at which point, she says, “I was hooked!”

On gender in the SEO industry, Blacker observes, “The SEO community is extremely fair compared to other industries like investment banking or entertainment.

“People respect each other for sharing knowledge, explaining findings, and asking boundary-pushing questions. I have never worried that being female has a negative correlation to thriving in SEO.”

Her advice to other women working in SEO is to make sure their voices are heard – and on a practical level, to not shy away from the technical side of SEO.

“If you’re the only woman in a room, it’s a good room to be in. Participate with value added words (not chat) to prove your voice is worth listening to so you don’t get left out of conversations.

“Celebrate technical learning, don’t avoid it; if you feel out of your depth, it’s a good place to keep swimming until you re-emerge at a higher level of performance. Learn to code, how major tools work and how to break down complex data sets in Excel.

Blacker’s other piece of advice to anyone wanting to stand out in SEO is to specialize. “SEO is well established now, and it’s more difficult to become a thought leader in an industry that’s been around for 15 – 20 years. I would recommend finding an optimization niche in an emerging industry to develop as a thought leader of tomorrow.”

Hannah Thorpe, Managing Director at White.net

Hannah Thorpe has become a well-known name in the search industry, particularly the UK search industry, in the four years that she has been working in digital. She regularly presents at industry events including SMX Advanced, Search London and Brighton SEO, and last year won Young Search Professional of the Year at the UK Search Awards.

On being a woman in SEO, Thorpe believes that, “SEO is SEO regardless of your gender, like in any industry. I genuinely think that if you enter into the industry passionate about what is we’re all working on, then you’ll be successful regardless of gender.

“The more you try to act differently because of a perception that you have to fit in with the male-dominated crowds, the harder you’ll find it. I love what I do, but I still want to have long fake nails, wear outrageous sparkly shoes and drink champagne, rather than beers.

“That doesn’t make me bad at my job – and if you’re a woman who doesn’t like any of those things, then equally, you should be able to embrace that.

“So much of the pressure to be a certain way is something we are putting on ourselves or creating by segregating into ‘women in SEO’ versus ‘men in SEO’. I would love for our industry to stop thinking of ourselves as male-dominated and to just think about everyone as individual people.”

Ann Smarty, Founder of ViralContentBee and Brand & Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas

Ann Smarty is a marketing consultant with more than 10 years’ experience, and is another one of our most popular and respected authors here at Search Engine Watch, sounding off on content marketing, keyword research, marketing tools, video optimization and much more with authority.

She is the former Editor-in-Chief at Search Engine Journal, founded social media and content marketing platform Viral Content Bee, and is the Brand & Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas.

When it comes to being a woman in SEO, Smarty says that, “I have never felt that I was in any way treated differently than men in this industry.

“I think our niche offers equal opportunity to both men and women, and I have to guess that the reason why it may be male-dominated is possibly that women shy away from it.

“Likewise, there are probably more men in the IT industry, not because men do anything special to influence that but probably because women just don’t like playing with numbers and computers that much. I don’t have any studies to support my thoughts here, but it’s the feeling that I get.”

Jennifer Jackson, Digital Manager at Sawday’s Canopy & Stars

Jennifer Jackson is another hugely experienced digital marketing expert with close to ten years’ experience working in the industry. She first got into SEO through a university work placement, writing search-optimized content to answer questions that people were asking over the phones.

Even at this early stage in her career, she was successful – “My piece I wrote for them still ranks #2 for ‘data protection act summary’, so even my first venture is doing well!”

As a woman working in search, Jackson hasn’t encountered a lot of negative bias. “I personally have never felt that being a woman has been an issue. I’ve found the SEO industry to be full of brilliant brains and not as many egos as you might find elsewhere.

“But maybe I’ve been sheltered by being on the client side, where I can call more shots because I’m paying the bill.

“I personally don’t think women have to do anything differently to other colleagues. I’m naturally quite vocal and not afraid to be the one to ask what might be a stupid question, so maybe that has helped me.

“I also love to understand as much of the technical details as possible so that I can confidently communicate with more technical roles, which has probably helped me too – but anyone can do this, not just women.”

“At the end of the day, every team needs different brains, and having female input in a room full of males can be truly invaluable – especially when lots of research shows in many categories the buying decision in a heterosexual household are made by the female!”

Jackson says that her best advice for women working in SEO would be the same that she’d give to anyone: “Learn and don’t stop learning. Sign up to industry newsletters; find the answers to things you don’t know; read around the technical jargon so you understand it.

“Don’t be put off when you’re faced with a room of ‘experts’, and don’t be afraid to ask the stupid questions, as you’ll always find someone else saying ‘I was thinking the same thing’.”

The 2018 guide to B2B sales, Part 3: Use CRM data for lasting benefits

In Parts 1 and 2 of this B2B blog series, we discussed how to effectively use different channels for your B2B efforts as well as how to build your audiences, then segment and leverage the right content for mid-funnel remarketing and your overall nurture program.

In the last part of this series, we are going to discuss tying back-end results to front-end metrics so that you can ensure you are reaching qualified audiences with your paid media efforts.

With your paid media efforts, you can track and optimize toward on-site conversions. However, in B2B marketing, those onsite conversions are typically leads and more shallow conversions that do not indicate a sale.

At the end of the day, you want to understand what keywords, audiences, targeting methods, etc., are driving eventual sales – and reallocate focus and budget accordingly.

In order to do this, it is important to pass through parameters within your URLs to track at the most granular level possible; doing this allows your CRM system to identify what drives leads.

You’ll want to pass through campaign-, ad-, and keyword-level parameters in search or campaign-, ad set-, and ad-level parameters in social to identify how those areas are performing.

Back-end CRM data helps you do the following:

Campaign – understand what campaigns are performing to sales goals and invest more budget into the right campaigns and pull back on the underperformers.
Ad set (social) – understand what audiences are performing well (or not). You can then use this to test other similar audiences and push budgets accordingly.
Ad – identify what type of creative or messaging is pushing performance. This will help you in additional creative testing and message development.
Keyword – get down to the most granular level in search: understanding what keywords are driving the most qualified users

Now you will want to set up a frequency for matching up the back-end data with your front-end metrics. Think about how often sales volume comes in and the duration it will take to get significant data for optimization efforts.

You may want to set up a reporting cadence to be analyzing data anywhere from weekly, to biweekly, to monthly depending on the amount of sales you get.

As you continue to collect data, remember to take a step back and understand what is truly driving sales at a high level. Look at specific keyword themes, different types of messaging, and the audiences contributing the strongest value.

As you analyze this data, you not only want to optimize bids and budgeting accordingly; you also want to think about next strategic steps.

How can you continue to capitalize on these themes? Are there additional opportunities for keyword expansion? Can you test different variations of your top messaging theme? How can you expand on the audiences you see working – are there different ways to reach similar personas or types of people?

At the end of the day, you want to get out of the weeds when it comes to optimizations based on sales; you need to look at a higher level and refine your strategy to capitalize on what is working best.

A forward-looking history of link building

Link building is still one of the most important aspects of SEO.

When other websites link back to your website, Google interprets this positively. Just how positively, nobody is sure.

The fact remains, you need high-quality links if you want to see success in your SEO efforts. But what are high-quality links, and what makes them so important?

To fully understand, we must take a trip back in time to 2005 when SEO professionals had the carpet pulled out from underneath them.

The Jagger update

Before September of 2005, link-building was in its most lawless phase of existence. SEO companies would create dummy websites with no content except hundreds, if not thousands, of links to external client websites.

Google’s algorithm at the time did not penalize this. Rather, this loophole-like tactic was widely exploited, making it simple for SEO firms to power link client sites to top rankings in no time flat. Of course, competition came in the form of other SEO firms vying for the same space, but this did little more than proliferate link spamming.

The tangled mess of backlink spam sites and reciprocal linking was a house of cards waiting obliviously for the first whisper of wind to knock every site down into ranking oblivion. Enter Jagger.

Jagger changed the way links were interpreted in a few ways. First, the anchor text of the inbound link was analyzed. Second, the content on the linking page was analyzed. Third, the speed at which links would come in from the linking page was analyzed.

Additionally, changes were made that would ultimately punish (harshly) any sites engaging in reciprocal link sharing with unrelated sites, purchased links, and sourcing links from farms.

As a result, many websites that were reliant on what would now certainly be considered black hat link building were forced to remove these tainted links from their pages.

Many sites also saw their position in the SERPs crash in a manner akin to the ’08 housing market bubble bursting. Optimizers cursed Google for treachery, and the entire SEO market was in jeopardy.

As with anything, though, SEO professionals who adapted to Jagger quickly were spared their business, and lived to link another day. That is, until Penguin came along.

Talk to SEO firms that were in business during the early Penguin updates and you can tell that they are still scarred from the experience. Some experts say that Penguin affected more than 3% of all English-language search results, penalizing sites for keyword stuffing and other extremely common optimization tricks.

The first Penguin update in 2012 was just the beginning, as is the case with most major Google algo updates. In future Penguin updates, Google would continue to crack down on web spam, over-optimization, and link building, and many SEO firms lived in terror of the next Penguin update.

Link building today

A lot of talk lately has been on the subject of link building losing value. These murmurs, it turns out, might have some validity, but are likely blown a bit out of proportion.

We’ve previously covered Google’s confirmation that the top three ranking factors are its search AI Rankbrain, content, and links. Whichever way you slice it, then, links are still a third of the equation to SEO success. So why are some people preaching doom and gloom for the role of link building?

The link building naysayers aren’t actually saying the strategy is dead, more that it doesn’t work like it used to. Now, instead of using tangentially related and lower quality links by the dozen, one inbound link from a serious player in the field is the better way to go.

This leads to atypical link building strategies like link outreach and cultivating highly linkable content as an asset rather than putting together a slapdash article and paying sites in a vaguely similar field for links.

What, then, does link building involve in 2018?

Creating linkable content

This doesn’t mean 370-word blog blurbs with little revolutionary content. It means getting down and dirty in the muck of your industry. It means sifting for informational gold over the course of a couple thousand words.

In short, it means crafting a piece of content that’s too good not to be linked. If any business wants to be the authority in their field, they need to be the authority in their field.

Helping reporters out

HARO is a platform for journalists searching for sources. Once you create that source, you can peruse HARO’s free website where journalists post the story they are writing, and the sources they are after. This can be seriously advantageous for the SEO guru in need of high quality editorial links on larger newspapers.

Seeking out industry leaders

Link outreach highlights the link building paradigm shift. One of the best ways to get high quality links is by looking for high ranking industry leaders that might be interested in your content.

Once you have a solid foundational understanding of their content topics, what their site might be missing, and what sites they already link to, contact them with a proposal to include your super informational, ultra-polished link in their next post.

This is link building today, and as you can see, it takes a much more public relations-like angle on creating links. You need to interact with other blogs and high ranking sites in a non-transactional way in order to cultivate the same link power you would’ve gotten years ago with paid links.

But before we launch ourselves full-force into the future of link building, let’s take a moment for a descriptive detour into the different types of link building.

The many flavors of link building

Becoming a link building pro is a lot like being a jack of all trades, within one oddly specific trade. There are so many different objectives link building can serve, and just as many different strategies for implementing those links.

Brian Dean at Backlinko provides an in depth look at some little-known backlinking techniques, but this should help you get started.

Links for traffic

What does every ecommerce website want more than anything? Perhaps they ultimately want to be ranked number one for all of their keywords, but the more honest and realistic goal is to get raw, unadulterated traffic.

More people equals more money. Getting links placed in a blog post, the comments section, forum posts, or even banner ads on a high-traffic site can make a huge difference in the number of page visits your website gets.

Links for lifting your SERP

Scaling the mountain to Google’s coveted page one is a huge goal of SEO. To do this, you need really juicy links.

Link juice is the amount of power an inbound link has in conveying to Google that your page should be higher on the results page. Sites like Forbes and The New York Times have a lot of juice, while unpopular blogs about squirrel fur are parched.

The thing is, juice can flow freely, or not at all. The deciding factor is found in do-follow or no-follow links. No-follow links are a way to link a page, but tell Google to ignore it when determining the linked page’s result position.

In order to get juicy links that will propel your site to higher search positions, you need do-follow links.

Links for your reputation

If your goal is to fill the search results for your company’s name with nothing but positivity, you will want to do a bit of reputation link building. This involves getting do-follow links that have your company’s name, or CEO’s name, in the anchor text.

These links can, and should, direct to your various social media platforms, your landing page, or to any website that you can ensure will present your business in a positive light. This strategy sounds a little like PR, doesn’t it?

Now that you have a more thorough (albeit far from exhaustive) understanding of link building in the past and present, let’s look with dewy eyes into the mysterious orb of the future.

Chasing tomorrow

The job of SEO professionals always seems to be, above all else, playing catch-up. Keeping up to speed with Google algorithm updates is a full time job, and it’s a job that everyone in the industry is working on tirelessly.

Though link building will still remain relevant for some time, the dissenters might be more than simple link building haters. They could, in fact, be a form of early adopters.

One thing all SEO folks should pay attention to, starting right now, is the Google’s new capacity for understanding and integrating linkless mentions into their algorithm.

Linkless mentions

With the death of Google’s once dogmatically-followed tool PageRank in 2016, the SEO world was left in the dark about where a page stood in terms of link juice and overall power. Since then, there has been an implied shift away from the importance of links as an SEO factor.

Rumors soon began circling that both Google and Bing possessed a mechanism to recognize the mere mention of a brand without the little ahref to go along with it. This was all but confirmed in late 2017 by Google’s own Gary Illyes in his keynote speech at Brighton SEO. In Illyes’ own words:

“Basically, if you publish high quality content that is highly cited on the internet – and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding, crap like that. Then you are doing great.”

This is a bit more than a nod to those conspiracy theorists that suggest Google has the capacity for implied link recognition. But does that threaten link building directly?

Not exactly. Many SEO professionals have a fully implemented link building strategy that works magnificently today. That said, this is a chance for those paying close attention to adopt new and more streamlined techniques.

For example, instead of contacting websites where your business was mentioned, but not linked, you can move on and spend your time elsewhere, knowing that Google has already seen this mention and accounted for it.

This brave new linkless world could mean changes in the way SEO is done on a large scale. Originally, link building was done as a way to quantify reputation, a strategy catalyzed by PageRank. Now that PageRank is gone, and there is no completely accurate way to get inside of Google’s algorithmic brain, it might be time to invite the PR pros into the murky realm of SEO.

If link building was just quantified reputation management, one might infer that linkless mentions (aka inferred links) are a form of unquantifiable reputation management.

All signs point toward adopting a new style of metric tracking and network building that focuses on the following:

High quality content. Creating those killer articles for people to reference becomes even more important. Now you aren’t just hustling for a link, but for the reputation of your entire brand.
Guest blogs. Not only do they offer great content, these blogs hold a good amount of weight. This is because you can guest post without ever needing to link. As long as your brand is mentioned, you will get Google’s attention.
Social media mentions. Having your name pop up on social media is crucial. This has been known for a long time, even outside of SEO, but mentioning a Facebook page that shares your brand’s name can signal Google for both at the same time. This compounds with the positive social engagement you’ll receive.

This is far from a conclusive image of the future, yet it does seem like SEO is trending toward a strategy that involves fewer links.

This might be scary to the deeply entrenched SEO gurus out there, but ultimately it changes very little about the way you’ll build links. Instead of blue underlined text, you will be able to shout out Hubshout without a single ahref to be found.

Ranker: How to make a Google algorithm-proof website

Any SEO or webmaster who has ever had a website affected by a Google algorithm change – or feared being affected by one – has probably wished that they could find a way to make their website “algorithm-proof”.

Still, surely there’s no such thing as a website that’s never impacted by Google algorithms, right? As long as your site is indexed by Google, it’s at the mercy of the algorithms that Google uses to determine website ranking, all the more so if you happen to rely heavily on organic search traffic for your business.

The art – or science – of search engine optimization is about determining as best you can what those algorithms are looking for, and giving it to them.

Yet one website believes it has found the formula for making its content “Google algorithm-proof”. Ranker is a website made up of dynamic, crowdsourced lists that users can vote on, about everything from pop culture to geography, history to sports, celebrities to science.

And according to its CEO, Clark Benson, Ranker has never suffered a negative effect from a Google algorithm change, growing its traffic steadily without interruption over the course of eight and a half years.

Search Engine Watch caught up with Benson to find out Ranker’s secret to success, and whether there is a formula for creating an algorithm-proof website.

Rankings, not review sites

So what is Ranker, exactly?

“Ranker’s primary reason for being is to crowdsource anything that makes sense to rank,” says Benson. “Any topic that people are really interested in.

“The unique angle that we’ve pursued is that instead of having this being one 23-year-old blogger’s opinion of the best new TV shows of the year, or whatever it happens to be, we would have a dynamic list that visitors could vote on, potentially add items to, and re-rank.

“The end result is a very wisdom-of-crowds-based answer which is always changing and dynamically moving along as tastes change, and as more people vote on things.”

Voting on a list of ‘Historical events you most want to go back and see’ on Ranker

Lists have been a time-honored draw for magazines and other print media over the years, but it was when the internet came along that they really exploded – spawning dozens of list-oriented viral websites and the much-mocked listicle, which became a staple of online journalism. However, Benson – a self-described “lifelong list nerd” – was frustrated by the fact that these lists only ever represented one person’s opinion.

In a similar vein, he found review websites unhelpful, as user-generated reviews represented a single person’s subjective opinion in a format that wasn’t conducive to making a decision.

“Part of the reason to build Ranker was my frustration with review sites, because when I’m looking for an answer to something, like which TV show to watch, I don’t want to read a lot of text reviews.

“I also feel that in typical five-star rating systems, everything tends to be clustered around three and a half to four stars, so you don’t get any true granularity on what is best.”

In a world increasingly “cluttered with choices”, therefore, Benson was convinced that rankings were “the simplest way to dissect a choice in a category, without losing the credibility of the answer”. And so he built Ranker as a website where the wisdom of the crowd could determine the ultimate ranking for any list of items, on any topic.

The secret to Ranker’s SEO success: Content freshness

Since Ranker’s launch in 2009, the site has amassed more than 100,000 rankings across dozens of broad categories, encompassing almost any topic that people could have a passion for.

When the website first launched, however, it had very few resources, and Benson explains that he had to learn SEO from scratch in order to give the website a strong foundation.

Luckily, earning traffic was never a problem for the site, because the type of content published on Ranker was uniquely suited to catering to Google’s algorithms.

“We’ve never been hit by any algorithm changes – we’ve always grown our organic search traffic year over year over year, steadily, for the eight and a half years we’ve been live.

“You never exactly know what works in SEO, because Google doesn’t tell you what works, but I’ve always believed that the best intelligence on what to do comes from the public statements Google makes – their best practices.

“And one of the key factors that Google says is in their index is freshness of content. Content has a lifespan. In our case, because our rankings are dynamic and always changing – people are adding things to them, voting things up and down – this makes for perpetually fresh content.

“We have a lot of content that is six, seven, even eight years old that is still doing as well as it was years ago, and in some cases it’s even growing in traffic.”

One of Ranker’s most evergreen pieces of content is a list ranking the ‘Best Movies of All Time’ – which is more than 5,000 items long.

“Obviously that’s a topic that there’s a lot of passion and a lot of competition for [in search rankings]. And in the last few years, we’ve been on the top three or so results on Google for that term.

“We’ve watched that page just grow in rankings over the span of seven or eight years. I can only guess it’s because the page is always changing.”

User-curated content

At the time of writing this article, Ranker’s front page is currently spotlighting a list of best-dressed celebs at the 2018 Oscars, a best TV episode names ranking, and a list of possible game-changing deep space observations to be made by the Webb Telescope.

Anyone can add an item to a list on Ranker, although Ranker’s content is not purely user-generated. Ranker has an editorial team which is made up of people who, in Benson’s words, “have a mind for cataloging things” rather than people who specialize in writing a lot of prose.

Lists are typically started off by one of Ranker’s editors, and when a user wants to add a new item to a list, it’s cross-referenced with Ranker’s database, a huge data set made up of more than 28 million people, places and things. If the item isn’t found in the database, it’s added to a moderation queue.

Rather than UGC (user-generated content), therefore, Benson thinks of Ranker’s lists as something he terms UCC – user-curated content.

How did Ranker build such a huge data set? Beginning in 2007, a company called Metaweb ran an open source, collaborative knowledge base called Freebase, which contained data harvested from sources such as Wikipedia, the Notable Names Database, Fashion Model Directory and MusicBrainz, along with user-submitted wiki contributions.

This knowledge base made up a large part of Ranker’s data set. What’s interesting is that Freebase was later acquired by none other than Google – and is the foundation of Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Additionally, not every list on Ranker is crowdsourced or voted on. Some lists, such as Everyone Who Has Been Fired Or Resigned From The Trump Administration So Far, don’t make sense to have users voting on them, but are kept fresh with the addition of new items whenever the topic is in the news.

Can other websites do ‘Ranker SEO’?

Benson acknowledges that Ranker’s setup is fairly unique, and so it isn’t necessarily possible to emulate its success with SEO by trying to do the same thing – unless you just happen to have your own crowdsourced, user-curated list website, of course.

With that said, there are still some practical lessons that website owners, particularly publishers, can take away from Ranker’s success and apply to their own SEO strategy.

First and foremost: content freshness is king

As you’ve no doubt gathered by now, the freshness of Ranker’s content is probably the biggest contributing factor to its success in search. “We’re convinced that the dynamism of our content is what really lets it just grow and grow and grow in search traffic,” says Benson.

“While our approach is somewhat unique to the way Ranker works – we have a bespoke CMS that makes lists out of datasets – I’m positive that there are other ways to apply this kind of thinking.”

To put content freshness front and center of your content marketing efforts, make sure that your publication or blog is well-stocked with evergreen content. For those articles or posts that are more time-sensitive, you can still publish a refreshed version, or look for an up-to-date spin to put on the old content, for example linking it in with current events.

According to research by Moz, other factors which can contribute to a positive “freshness” score for your website as a whole include:

  • Changes made to the core content of your website (as opposed to peripheral elements like JavaScript, comments, ads and navigation)
  • Frequency of new page creation
  • Rate of new link growth (an increase in links pointing back to your site or page)
  • Links from other fresh websites, which have the ability to transfer their “fresh value” (Justin Briggs dubbed this quality “FreshRank” in 2011)

Internal links trump external links

Other than content freshness, Benson attributes Ranker’s SEO success to one other big factor: its intricate network of internal links, which Benson believes are far more valuable to SEO than an impressive backlink profile.

“I think a lot of people who are new to SEO focus too much on trying to get outside links, versus optimizing their own internal infrastructure,” he says.

“We have a very broad site with millions of pages – not just lists, but a page for every item that’s included in a list on Ranker, showing you where it ranks on all of our different lists.”

The Ranker page for Leonardo da Vinci

“We made the mistake early on of leaving all of those pages open to Google’s index, and we learned over time that some of them are very thin, content-wise. New links are added to them, but they’re thin pages. So we quickly adopted a strategy of noindexing the thinner pages on our site – so they have utility, but they don’t necessarily have search utility.

“We’ve really focused a lot on internal link structure and on interlinking our content in a very intelligent and vertical-driven, page-optimized way. We’ve put a lot of engineering and product resources towards building a robust internal link structure that can also change as pages become more valuable in search.

“Outside links are very important, but they’re increasingly difficult to get. If you have good, unique content, and a strong internal link structure, I think you can get by with far fewer backlinks. Ranker has a lot of backlinks – we’re a big site – but we’ve never tactically gone out to build backlinks. And we get more than 30 million organic search visits per month.”

Think about how your content will appear to searchers

Benson emphasizes the importance of paying attention to basic on-site optimization like crafting good title tags and meta descriptions. These elements dictate how your website appears in the SERP to users when they search, and so will form the first impressions of your content.

“When it comes to creating new content, our editorial team definitely focuses on best practice with regards to title tags and meta descriptions – the basic stuff still applies,” says Benson. “Anyone doing editorial still needs to think about your content from the lens of the searcher.”

Optimizing for Google’s rich results and using Schema.org markup are additional ways that website owners can make sure that their website listing appears as attractive as possible to a searcher encountering it on the SERP.

The future is psychographic

What plans does Benson have for the future of Ranker? Up to now, the site has been concentrating mostly on search and social distribution (Facebook is another big source of organic traffic), but are now beginning to focus more on ad sales, media tie-ins and getting the brand name out there.

“We’re always focused on growing traffic, and we’re certainly investing a lot more into our brand,” says Benson.

However, the most exciting future project for Ranker is something called Ranker Insights – a psychographic interests platform which makes use of Ranker’s thousands of data points on what people are interested in and like to vote on.

Drawing connections between people’s interests on Ranker Insights

Big data on anything is extremely valuable in marketing, but big data on the things that people like is near enough invaluable – particularly in a world where psychographics (classifying people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other aspects of their psychology) are increasingly more important than demographics (classifying people according to things like age, gender, race and nationality).

“The marketing world in general is steering a lot more towards psychographics rather than demographics,” says Benson. “Netflix doesn’t care what country you live in – when it comes to marketing or even recommendations, all they care about is your tastes. They stopped using demographics entirely years ago – and clearly they’re doing something right.

“We feel that in an interconnected world, what you like says at least as much about you as your age or your gender.

“And in a world where what you like tells people how to market to you and how to reach you, we have very, very granular, deep data on that front. There’s a lot of different applications for insights like this in a very data-driven world.”

How Progressive Web Apps could rule mobile ecommerce in 2018

Championed by Google since 2015, Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are set to explode as an option for brands to increase traffic and conversions on mobile.

According to a recent study, a 100-millisecond delay can cost a site 7% of its conversion rate, and Google frequently reiterates that when it comes to capturing consumer attention, every second counts.

Looking after your customers with great user experience is also rewarded with a ranking boost, with Google announcing in that from July this year page speed will officially be a mobile ranking signal.

Discussion of adopting PWAs are still in their infancy among some sectors and brands, perhaps because the technology is still relatively young and PWA capability issues persist.

For instance, only now is progress being made with Apple now adapting its web browser engine to handle key features of PWA. As these barriers begin to dissipate, the reluctance from web developers will also diminish – paving the way for PWAs to become a key platform for retailers to build fast, mobile-optimized websites in 2018.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

In the context of the mobile ecosystem, a Progressive Web App is described as a website that offers the near identical experience of a native app but within a standard browser.

This technology can apply to a range of devices from mobile right up to the desktop version. No app store is required to access a PWA site.

The significant advantage of PWAs over native mobile apps is that they do not require any different technologies or in-depth understanding of adapting your code to run on either iOS (Apple) or Android phones. Developers can get by with HTML5, CSS and JavaScript build for PWA.

They offer the pop-up notifications directly to the user, implement home screen icons for easy access and sites can operate in full-screen mode. All this is bundled in with speedier page delivery.

What’s so cool about PWA?

As we’ve established, mobile speed is very important for Google, so much so that the search engine has offered any fast site a rank boost both for desktop and now mobile SERPs.

Its site ethos is to deliver fast, integrated, reliable and engaging experiences for mobile devices. Progressive web apps can cater for all these factors in many ways, while the framework and caching makes PWA code light and efficiently stored. Push notification and ‘Add to Home Screen’ functionality also keep users coming back.

Here are the key areas where Progressive Web Apps can give your e-commerce site a significant advantage.

Speed

The rate at which a site responds is key and PWAs make speedy responses possible, largely thanks to the Service Worker. The caching ability allows the browser to store repetitive elements of the layout that are in the template and inject it into the browser when required, speeding up download times significantly and saving the all-important seconds that will make any e-commerce site more user-friendly.

Keep file pages less than 1mb and make sure that first interaction with the page happens in less than five seconds. Enable HTTP/2 to allow multiple retrieval of assets and compression to quicken the site further.

Responsiveness

User experience is at the heart of Progressive Web Apps so they are to be built with a responsive layout. With responsive sites, the layout can accommodate screens regardless of size.

So no matter what device you are looking at, the experience will be tailored correctly. The PWA app manifest file allows developers to control full screen view, enhancing the experience further.

Offline functionality

The Service Worker and cache api are key for Progressive Web Apps. The Service Worker is essentially a program that work predominantly behind the scenes retrieving and storing site components in the browser cache.

For example, when you are travelling on underground transport where offline functionality is most needed, the wifi connection could be working intermittently or the networks could be poor.

PWA can bridge the gap between offline and online by at least offering a basic navigation in the interim.

The only issue with Service Workers is that not all current browsers support them. Safari and Explorer are developing beta versions that work with this technology. Browsers are slowly catching up but tracking technology compatibility can be monitored by using the caniuse site.

User retention

We all know that native apps serve users’ notifications directly to screen. The great thing is that Progressive Web Apps also offer the same inbuilt functionality of push notifications that alert users of current site developments.

This is invaluable for e-commerce sites to alert users of updates, particularly when new products come into stock, or to alert them to sales and discounts. The ‘Add to Home Screen’ function allows users to place a shortcut icon on their home screens for easier access. Again, the app manifest file is used declare these capabilities.

Search engine ready

Unlike native apps, there’s no need to indicate your deep linking URL by editing the source code of a PWA – instead, individual PWA URLs can be indexed by search engines. This takes away a lot of the headache that normally surrounds optimizing your apps for search.

Who’s using PWA right now?

Early PWA adoption has to a few high profile publishers, namely Forbes, Washington Post and Financial Times.

AliExpress is an ecommerce site that allows users to order from mainly Chinese companies very similar to eBay. A typical market version of the PWA site is found here.

The Aliexpress PWA site managed to capture some impressive metrics upon release, including a 104% increase in new users and 82% usage increase among iOS users. This statistic reveals that despite Service Workers not yet being supported by Safari right now, there are twice as many pages being visited per user on multiple browsers. Time spent on the site in a session increased by 74%.

Ele.me is a food ordering company in China that reduced loading times on average by 6.35% across all their pages. Users managed to experience the site with time to consistently interactive dropping to 4.93 seconds on a 3G network on the first load.

Finally, George.com (ASDA) recently launched its PWA site. According to Google, this site accelerated average speeds by 3.8x and saw a fantastic 31% increase in conversion in return.

What about AMP?

There are various pros and cons of both technologies. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are quicker on the first load. This can be demonstrated by load times to interactivity where PWA can load in less than ten seconds, while AMP provides an initial load speed of fewer than two seconds.

AMP requires validated web components to function, but PWA only needs HTML5, JS and CSS to get running.

AMP’s advantage over PWA is that they don’t require Service Worker in the initial load while benefiting from cached pages from the get-go. It is possible to combine PWA with AMP to improve the user experience further.

One such component is ‘’. Landing page content can be served as an AMP page while the Service Worker is triggered by the use of an iframe, accessing and caching PWA related assets behind the scenes.

This means that AMP pages can switch quickly to PWA pages in a seamless manner without having to wait too long for subsequent PWA to load. Imagine a scenario where a user can enter the site quickly via an AMP page, downloading content at super-quick speed and then switching to PWA pages with all their benefits!

In summary, it’s possible to offer a high-speed mobile experience using both AMP and PWA. The AMP landing page is effectively a quick entry point page and used to initiate service worker caching for following pages that are in PWA format.

To ensure that the user experience remains consistent, the look and feel of both AMP and PWA pages should be identical to create a seamless, uninterrupted transfer between technologies.

Are there any issues for ecommerce?

PWA are predominantly Single Page apps which, in turn, could be problematic for Google and search engines crawling your pages. There’s a good reason that single page apps are used in PWA, since they are lightweight and allow service workers to inject content in a handy template based format.

There could be a need to pre-render pages server side in order to get crawled. The overall recommendation when developing PWAs is to do so iteratively, slowly building newer features and testing at different build stages. This will maintain a site development strategy of progressively enhancing for inclusive user experience.

There is an assortment of Google tools that can highlight issues upon build. Make use Google’s Fetch and Render tool, and the Lighthouse audit that is now part of Chrome’s Developer Inspect tool can analyse a PWA give a score out of 100.

It can provide readings on time to first meaning paint, for instance, and show potential blockers in the loading of DOM structure. The tool is powerful in reducing overheads and code bloat.

Fetch and Render will indicate any issues where Google would struggle to see elements on the page. Google makes it easier to develop PWA sites with this build checklist.

Do not block JavaScript and CSS from any engine crawl activity since they need to understand how the page looks in a browser. Provide clean URLs, without using the hash symbol, and adequately canonical tag PWA pages back to the relevant desktop page where there could be duplication.

Should e-retailers be worried about security and privacy? Service worker programs only work under secure conditions so your site must be working with https encryption.

A specific API called Payment Request API is supposed to make it easier for a mobile site to collect secure credit card and payment information. The API facilitates autofill and one tap checkouts. It has recently been developed by Google and is subject to changes.

What the future holds for PWAs

Google is actively pushing PWA and AMP in 2018. The search engine is speaking with many partners at the moment, and one such development is PWA integration into e-commerce platforms, such as Magento.

It’s realistic to say that the technology currently meets the criteria for the ever expectant and demanding mobile user crowd. Mobile users want to see content quickly or at times offline and PWA offer opportunities to engage and re-engage users.

In a recent study, US users spent 5 hours a day on mobile devices but only 5% of that time accounted for mobile shopping apps. It is said that mobile apps have been falling out of favour for some time, with users favouring mobile web or becoming disheartened by the mobile app experience from retailers.

With the greater impact of PWA, one can imagine how convenient it is for a user not having to switch between app and browser when conducting product research. It will certainly be interesting to see what the future of the Progressive Web App looks like!

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

6_criteria

Search Engine Watch sister publication ClickZ recently launched an innovative new series of buyers guides, created with the aim of cutting through the complexity of the martech landscape to help our readers make better decisions about vendors.

The first in the series is dedicated to bid management platforms. With more than $90 billion spent on paid search in 2017, these software packages play a vital role in deriving maximum value from a brand’s digital media budget.

Within this article, we take a look at one of the leading platforms covered in the first ClickZ buyers guide: Acquisio.

The core component of the ClickZ bid management vendor guide is a customer survey, sent out to the readerships of both ClickZ and Search Engine Watch. It received more than 1,600 responses and evaluated technologies across the following six areas:

The role of a bid management platform has changed significantly over the past decade, in line with the increased sophistication of the digital media industry.

Many of these software packages now employ machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in historical data and use this knowledge to predict future trends.

Based on this insight, budget can be shifted automatically to the areas that will deliver the best returns. This can be achieved across devices, across campaigns, and even across different media channels.

Throughout our survey, one platform that was consistently praised for its ability to deliver these improved results while also providing an accessible interface is Acquisio.

Acquisio: Company profile

Acquisio, which was acquired by Web.com in 2017, actually started life as an agency that developed a suite of proprietary tools. The potential of this technology to improve paid search performance was such that the company soon shifted its focus to specialize in bid management software.

The platform has developed rapidly since then and provides access to advanced machine learning technology to businesses of all sizes. This is primarily achieved through the Acquisio Turing (™) product, which powers predictive bid and budget management across search, social media, and display.

acquisio-people

Through its acquisition by Web.com last year, the company has maintained its focus on the areas that matter for its customers, such as the speed of the user experience, the performance improvements the platform brings to PPC campaigns, and insightful reporting dashboards.

Acquisio core strengths

Within our customer survey, there were some clear strengths highlighted by Acquisio customers. In particular, the platform’s core bid management technology drew praise for its clarity and efficacy. The ability to mirror campaigns across channels and keep this automatically synced over time was frequently noted by clients as a significant positive.

acquisio-stengths

Furthermore, Acquisio customers gave positive feedback on the technology’s reporting dashboards and the support clients are offered. In the case of the latter, Acquisio was among the highest scorers of all platforms reviewed in our survey. During our vendor interviews, the thorough nature of the onboarding and training process was clearly a focus for the company.

As we can see in the chart below (5 is the highest possible score), Acquisio was shown to be a very effective all-rounder in our survey, with the user experience and bid management capabilities both singled out for praise. This diagram shows the average score given to Acquisio across each of our six core assessment criteria:

Acquisio Scores

This compares favorably to the competition, as we can see in the chart below, which shows Acquisio’s score in each of the assessment categories against the average of the other five platforms in the survey.

Bid management, strategic insight, reporting, and user experience all resulted in high performance for Acquisio. Acquisio’s reporting dashboard received particular praise for its intuitive and informative nature, showing performance data from search engines alongside Facebook and Instagram.

Acquisio score

Acquisio automatically moves budget around multiple campaigns and/or publishers to maximize traffic and budget attainment, which has contributed to its positive scores within the cross-channel category.

This vendor also offers some specific tools for SMBs within its Promote product, which simplifies the campaign creation and bid management process. Once more, this adds to the accessible nature of the platform for businesses from SMBs up to enterprise-level digital campaigns.

ClickZ overview: Acquisio

Where Acquisio excels is in its ability to offer advanced search management at a comparatively low price point. This is coupled with an intensive, supportive training program that ensures all team members are able to get the most out of the technology.

Although other platforms in our guide provide a broader range of features beyond the core areas of search and social, marketers need to weigh up how important these factors are when considering a bid management vendor partner.

Acquisio has a clear focus on providing the best possible search and social media marketing platform and it competes very well on these fronts. With a 21 day free trial on offer too, it is an excellent option for marketers looking to take their search strategy to the next level.

To find out more information about Acquisio, you can download their Marketer’s Field Guide to Machine Learning on ClickZ. Or follow this link to download the Bid Management Tools Buyers Guide and learn about our readers’ evaluation of the other platforms profiled.

30 ways to market your online business for free

For many people and businesses, the word ‘marketing’ conjures up visions of pricey marketing strategies and excessive expenditure.

With a high number of businesses all vying for exposure among the vast digital landscape, it can sometimes feel like fighting a losing battle, especially for those just starting out.

However, it doesn’t have to be expensive: there are plenty of free ways to market a business. In this post, we share our top tips for how to market your online business for free – 30 different ways in fact. Here goes…

1. Capture email data

Ensure that you have a method of capturing email data from website visitors. Integrate an email sign up option onto your site and begin building a database of customer data.

You can then use this data for a range of marketing incentives, such as email marketing or creating custom audiences on Facebook for targeted advertising. (Just make sure you’re GDPR compliant…)

2. Email marketing

You’ve got the data, now you need to do something useful with it. Start by setting up a free account with Mailchimp, and start distributing those emails.

Avoid being overly promotional and always offer something genuinely useful to the recipients. Keep the emails regular but never bombard, otherwise people will hit unsubscribe quicker than you can say ‘digital marketing’.

3. Video marketing

You’d be mad to ignore the proliferation of video over the past few years. Jump on the bandwagon and start engaging in some video marketing.

Begin by setting up a YouTube channel. You don’t have to create Hollywood-esque movies – just a simple video blog will do. If you’ve got something useful to say, then say it on video. It also makes for highly shareable, marketable content – plonk it on your website, push it out on social, and include in your emails.

4. Post to Facebook

It goes without saying that social media is one of the most valuable marketing tools out there. And it’s free. FREE. It’s best not to go signing up for every social media platform under the sun, just focus on those most suitable to your business.

Facebook is a viable option for almost all businesses. Unfortunately, the latest algorithm updates have made it harder than ever for businesses to gain visibility in the news feed without paying. But, you’ve got nothing to lose. Post regular updates – be engaging and exciting, don’t be too promotional, and be genuinely interesting.

5. Interact with industry experts on Twitter

Twitter isn’t for everyone, but it does carry a whole array of benefits. It’s a great platform for engaging with industry experts and customers, as it’s a place where anyone can talk to anyone.

Respond to customer feedback, retweet the best user-generated content, and offer genuine input to industry discussions.

6. Create an Instagram

A popular contender among social media platforms, Instagram has an ever-increasing user base.

If your business would benefit from a visual presence, then make sure you are dedicating time to building a strong Instagram account. Remember that it’s a visual platform, so carefully curated content that looks amazing is key.

7. Generate website traffic with Pinterest

Pinterest isn’t suitable for a lot of businesses, but can work really well for some. The platform has one of the highest conversion rates in terms of converting browsers into buyers.

You can also generate significant website traffic and find out more about what your target users love.

8. Build your network on LinkedIn

If your business is a B2B company, be sure to have a strong presence on LinkedIn. It’s also a great place for building your network. The same rules apply to LinkedIn as other social platforms – engage with relevant people and offer genuine insight.

9. Publish to Google Plus – yes, really!

Google Plus, that strange little platform that never quite hit the big time. Yet it’s still plodding along hoping that one day, something, anything will happen that propels it into social media stardom (not likely).

Still, despite the failings of Google Plus, it is still worth getting into the habit of pushing out any new content via Google Plus. After all, it’s a product of Google and if you want to climb those rankings, we suggest keeping Google sweet.

10. Start using Google Posts

Aim to publish regular updates via Google Posts for greater visibility in the search engine results pages. Posting to Google allows businesses to share content with people that is relevant to the search queries being inputted. It’s a great way of gaining a little extra exposure.

11. Encourage UGC

User-generated content (UGC) is content that has been created and published by unpaid fans of your business. It’s when someone loves your product or service so much that they take it upon themselves to share their experience with friends and family, usually via social media.

UGC typically occurs naturally, but there is no harm in encouraging it – if you don’t ask you don’t get! You can highlight the best posts every week on your social media channels, and even offer prizes to customers who get featured.

And speaking of prizes…

12. Run social media giveaways

Running social media giveaways is a sure-fire way of increasing engagement and generating new followers. Not only can it be a nice way of saying thank you to existing customers and fans, it’s also a handy way of reaching potential new customers.

Okay, so it’s not entirely cost free, as you’ll need to give away a product, but there’s no need to spend any money on top of that. Just be sure to follow all the best practices of running a giveaway.

13. Engage with social influencers

Influencer marketing is a huge industry. For those unfamiliar with how it all works, a business pays or offers free products to a blogger or influencer who has a high following on social media. In return, the influencer shares your product on their social media channels. It’s extremely effective.

The more popular influencers can charge astronomical rates, but those with smaller followings (sometimes called “micro-influencers”) have high engagement rates and are often willing to post something in return for a free product or trial.

14. Set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

If you haven’t already, then make sure you set up Google Search Console (and also Bing Webmaster Tools). Using these tools, you can view valuable information about the search terms people are using to find your website.

You can also index new pages, meaning they will show up in the search engine results pages quicker. Plus, be sure to submit an XML sitemap – it helps the search engines crawl your site.

15. Update your Google My Business listing

Update your Google My Business listing and check that all information is accurate. Reorganize the images to ensure that only your best side is showing.

Do the same with your local listings for Bing and Yahoo. It’s also worth working on building your Google reviews, as they will help boost your rankings.

16. Ask your customers for testimonials

On the topic of reviews, be sure to generate as many testimonials and (positive) reviews as possible.

Whether it’s via Google, TrustPilot or for a dedicated testimonials section on your website, people trust other people. You’ll have to ask your customers for these, as people don’t very often give them naturally. Just a gentle prompt will do the trick.

17. Google Analytics

Make sure that you have Google Analytics linked up to your site. It’s a treasure trove of handy data and be sure to spend some time getting your head around it all.

See how people interact with your site, identify the pain points and discover the most popular pages. With this information you can make considered and informed changes and improvements to your site.

18. Review Google AdWords

Google AdWords is not free. In fact, it’s incredibly expensive. But if you are already running a PPC campaign then it’s worth taking some time to review your strategy. Try rewriting some of the ads and improving your quality score to generate better results.

Sparing a little time reviewing your campaign could save you lots of money. For most of us AdWords will cost, but if you are a charity you can apply for a Google Grant of up to £10,000 to spend on AdWords!

19. Use PR

PR is still a very powerful weapon in a marketer’s arsenal. Without hiring a dedicated PR agency, there are some steps you can take to implement a bit of PR. Following any substantial news or updates, it’s worth distributing a press release as you never know who may pick it up.

Sign up to platforms like HARO (help a reporter out) and look out for hashtags like #journorequest on Twitter, as you may be able to wrangle a mention. PR, of course, goes hand-in-hand with link-building for SEO.

20. Contribute to forums, blogs and discussions

Part of marketing your business online is to establish yourself as a reliable industry expert and a voice of authority. In order to build this authority, take the time to contribute to relevant forums, blogs and social media discussions.

Offer genuinely helpful insight and answer questions that are being asked. People will appreciate your input and, with any luck, will convert into a customer.

21. Speak at industry conferences

Another excellent way of building your authority and reputation as an expert within your industry, is to volunteer to speak at relevant industry conferences. It’s a great way of getting your personal and business name out there. If you’re trusted to speak at conferences, then you’ll be trusted to offer a good product or service.

22. Content creation

It goes without saying that content creation should be central to any digital marketing strategy. If you haven’t already got a blog on your website then don’t wait a second longer. Do it. Right now.

You’ll probably have noticed that there are a disconcerting amount of blogs on the web. So don’t do what everyone else is doing; be different, be helpful and be relevant.

23. Guest post

As well as creating content for your own site, be sure to integrate guest blogging into your marketing strategy. Only aim for relevant and high quality sites, preferably with a high domain authority and nonexistent spam score.

It’s a great way of ramping up brand exposure, but also securing links back to your website (hello better SEO rankings).

24. Use blogging platforms

As beautiful as your website’s blog might be, it can be frustrating if your lovingly crafted content is not getting the exposure you think it deserves. Especially if you are only just starting out, it can be crushing to spend hours working on a stellar article, only for two people to read it (probably your mum and your best mate).

This is where blogging platforms, like Medium, can help increase your exposure. Just make sure that you follow the best practices for republishing content on these platforms.

25. Carry out keyword research

If you are undertaking a full blown SEO campaign, the chances are that you are paying someone to do it, or you are already an SEO whiz, in which case you’ll (hopefully) know what you’re doing.

For the newbies, keyword research is the initial stage of any SEO campaign and can help you identify user intent and figure out what your target audience is searching for. It would take several blog posts to cover this in enough detail, but a good place to start is with this complete guide to keyword research for SEO.

26. Optimize your metadata

Get into the habit of writing an SEO title and meta description for every page and post you publish. This is the information that will be displayed in the search engine results pages, so you need to make it as enticing and relevant as possible.

27. Mark up your website with Schema.org structured data

In a nutshell, schema markup allows you to label the content on your site for the benefit of the search engine. It helps the search engines provide more detailed search engine results pages.

Although there is no evidence that schema markup directly improves your rankings, it will make your listing more attractive, therefore encouraging more click-throughs. And that can only be a good thing!

28. List your business in online directories

Ensure that your business is listed in relevant online directories. There are the most popular ones, such as Yell, Yelp and Thomson Local, but there are a whole host of other industry or location-specific directories.

Make sure you add your business listing to only the directories which are relevant to your business, and ensure they aren’t spammy.

29. Make sure your NAP are consistent

That sounds complicated but it’s really very simple. NAP stands for name, address and phone number. NAP consistency refers to the process of ensuring that all mentions of your business feature the correct information.

Do a quick search and make sure that the name, address, phone number, and any other information about your business listed online are all completely accurate and formatted consistently.

30. Test your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly Test

Finally, if you want your website to rank well and offer a fantastic user experience then it needs to be fast and mobile-friendly. Utilize Google’s free tools to check the speed of your website and whether or not it is mobile-friendly. Any red flags should be resolved as quickly as possible.

So there you have it. There’s definitely enough information here to keep you occupied for quite some time. It always helps to have a marketing budget, but these free steps are the best place to start. Good luck!

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other roundups of marketing tools and techniques you can use completely free of charge:

What are the best free SEO resources online?
40+ free digital marketing tools to help grow your business
26 best expert-recommended free SEO tools

5 YouTube optimization tips to improve your video rankings

Youtube suggested

Just how big is YouTube these days? According to a really cool infographic that was released earlier in 2017, there are some pretty incredible statistics:

  • YouTube is available and used in 88 countries around the world
  • It is the second largest social media platform with over 1.5 billion monthly users, second only to Facebook (2 billion) and more than twice the number of Instagram (700 million)
  • 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • Mobile viewing makes up half of the site’s streaming.

In other words, YouTube is HUGE. Not only has it been steadily growing since its initial launch in 2005, it has become the single biggest and most important video service on the web. While there are others that have come in is wake, none have reached the same level of popularity.

With that it mind, it is no wonder that so many people are looking to boost the effectiveness of their content on the platform. However, with so much use comes other struggles, like being seen in the crowd. If 720,000 hours are uploaded a day, you have to do everything possible to stand out and be noticed.

Here are five optimization tips for your YouTube channel and videos that will help you to start doing better in search, get recommended, and gain more traction.

Find the sweet spot with your video title length

There are several things to consider when coming up with the video title:

  • How engaging and catchy it is for the eye
  • How many important keywords you use within your title (those keywords are going to help you rank that video in both YouTube and Google search)
  • Which part of the title is immediately visible when people search YouTube or see your video thumbnail in YouTube-generated related videos.

Taking all of the above in the account, the sweet spot for your video title is going to be around 100 characters. That is enough to give a unique, descriptive title while still showing in search without a cut off.

Make sure that title not only describes what is happening in the video and contains key phrases you have already researched, but it is also attention grabbing enough that people will want to click on it.

When crafting a video title, consider including the following:

  • Include the important names and entities (your interviewee, event name, branded hashtag, featured brand name, etc.)
  • Location (especially if you are targeting a specific locale)
  • Your important keyword you’d like the video to show up for.

To distinguish that important keyword, use keyword clustering technique that allows you to see core phrases behind obscure keyword variations. My own trick is to use Serpstat’s clustering feature that allows you to group keywords by how many identical URLs rank in Google for each specific query:

Clustering

You can read more on how Serpstat clustering feature works in this guide.

You may also to match each keyword group to appropriate keyword intent to make sure your future video content will cover the immediate need and prompt engagement.

Make your descriptions longer

Video and channel descriptions are another valuable resource for drawing traffic to all of your content. YouTube allows up to 5,000 characters, which is between 500 and 700 words.

The rule of thumb is obvious: The more original content you have below your video, the easier for search engines it is to understand what your video is about and what search queries to rank it for.

Not every description needs to be that long, but aiming for around 2,000 characters for videos and 3,000 for channels is a good place because it gives you the space necessary to optimize your keyword use and give some context to viewers. More is fine, but make sure you aren’t filling it with a lot of pointless fluff.

Make the first 150 characters of a description count

Of the words you write, the first 150 characters are the most important. That is because YouTube cuts it off with a (More) tag after the point, so the viewer has to specifically opt in to reading the rest. Not all of them are going to do that.

You should make sure those first characters tell the viewer what they really need to know in order to connect with what they are reading. From there you can focus more on keywords and the rest of the description, as it will still count the same towards searches.

It is also a great place to link out to other channels, your website, etc. Make sure your call to action (CTA) is in the first words, such as liking, subscribing, learning more, etc.

Have a good, high-resolution thumbnail

Thumbnails are pretty standard for monetized video channels at this point. You have probably noticed that they follow a certain pattern: silly face, bright colors, something odd in the background, over the top. Sure, it seems annoying. But they follow the formula because the formula works.

Now, you don’t have to do the same thing. You just want to make sure that you have an eye catching, visually stimulating thumbnail in the recommended 1280 x 720 size. There are a few generators out there to help you make one, but my thumbnail maker of choice right now is Adobe Spark.

Adobe Spark

Keep in mind that you want a standard format across all of your thumbnails. For instance, if you do your face on one then you should do them on all. If you use some kind of animation or logo, use that.

You want to be immediately recognizable to anyone who follows your channel right from the suggested videos sidebar, or the search results. If you have old videos, go back and upload thumbnails to each one to start getting some better click results.

Furthermore, make sure your thumbnails are readable: Viewers should be able to easily see what it is about at a glance when seeing it in the right-hand column of the suggested videos or on a small mobile device.

Utilize playlists – I mean it!

Playlists are incredibly helpful. First of all, they help you group together certain videos right on your channel. So let’s say you did a series on how to increase your YouTube views and it was split into ten videos. You would create a playlist on your channel titled “Super YouTube Tips” so that people could find them all in one place. But that has an additional benefit.

Search leans towards introducing playlists right at the top of the results page. It also allows people to specifically search for playlists. That is great because it can introduce viewers to multiple videos instead of one and many will choose to pop on a playlist and watch straight through everything there.

If you do a creative series with a continued plot you will find this is a huge help and makes it a million times easier to sort it out, even if YouTube screws with the order on your channel (an issue more than one content creator has had in the past, take it from me).

To sum that up, YouTube playlists help you:

  • Increase your chances to rank your video content for a wider variety of phrases (which is also helpful for brand-focused results)
  • Improve engagement rate with your videos by giving your audience collections of videos so that they can sit back and watch endlessly. And we know that engagement is the crucial ranking factor when it comes to YouTube rankings.

To illustrate the point, here’s a quick example of how we were able to grab two spots for our show name with the playlist:

Playlist ranking

Bonus tip: Feature your videos on your site

Finally, an obvious but often missed tactic is to increase your YouTube channel performance by prominently displaying your videos on your site. It’s simple: the more people watch your videos (especially if they watch more of each of your videos), the more exposure YouTube offers to your content through suggesting your videos as related.

One of the most effective ways to generate more views for your channel is to promote your videos outside of YouTube, i.e. use your blog and social media channels. There’s a variety of WordPress themes that aim at doing exactly that: promote your YouTube channel prominently on-site.

Furthermore, promote your videos on social media as much as it makes sense for your audience to build additional exposure, links, and re-shares.

Do you have any tips for optimizing YouTube? Let us know in the comments!

A guide to the standard reports in Google Analytics: real-time reports

Google Analytics is a tool that can provide invaluable insights into what’s happening on your website, your levels of traffic and engagement, and the success of your campaigns.

However, to a newcomer to Google Analytics, the array of different reports available can seem a little overwhelming. Once you’ve got Google Analytics set up for your website, where do you look first? Where will you find the most useful data for your campaigns?

Reports on Google Analytics are broadly divided into two types. There are standard reports, which are the preset reports listed down the left-hand side of your dashboard, divided into the segments Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions.

The data that appears in these is predetermined by Google Analytics, but you also have the option to customize many of them, allowing you to use the standard reports as a base and then tweak them to your liking.

Then there are custom reports, which can either be created completely from scratch with whatever data you want to gather together in a single view, or created based on a standard report, with additional segments or filters added to tailor the report to your needs.

There are dozens of different standard reports available in Google Analytics, providing a wealth of insight into audience demographics, sources of traffic, content performance, campaign performance and much, much more.

In this series, we’re going to tackle the gargantuan task of explaining each segment of Google Analytics and the standard reports they contain. We’ll cover the data you can find within each standard report, and how it can be used in your marketing and SEO efforts.

First up are real-time reports. How do they work, and what kinds of campaigns are they useful for?

What are real-time reports?

As it says on the tin, the Real-Time Reports section in Google Analytics allows you to monitor activity on your site in real time, as it happens.

It can be a useful way of “taking the pulse” of your website in a specific moment, or tracking the response to a campaign in real-time. Just don’t get too obsessed with watching the numbers go up and down!

A visitor to your site qualifies for the real-time report if they have triggered an event, or pageview, within the last five minutes. This is different from the other types of standard report, where a session is defined by a 30-minute window.

The Real-Time Reports section is broken down into:

Overview

This is the big-picture view of what’s happening on your website at any given moment. The Real-Time Overview report shows how many users are currently active on your site, a list of the top active pages, top sources of referral traffic, top social traffic sources, the top locations that users are visiting from, and more.

Locations

This report drills deeper into the available data on where exactly in the world your users are accessing your website from.

In the initial view, this information is broken down by country, but if you select a country name from the list or the map of active users, you can ‘zoom in’ on exactly which cities your users are logging in from. If you select a city from the list or map, you can get even more granular and filter the data by that specific city.

Note that if you apply a country or city filter and then navigate to another report in the section, such as Traffic Sources, the data presented to you will continue to be filtered by that region until you opt to clear the filters.

Real-time location data can be useful if you’re running a campaign targeted at a specific region of the world and want to monitor its performance, or if you want to get a sense of where your users are accessing your website from at different times of day.

Traffic Sources

As the name indicates, this real-time report shows where on the web your visitors are coming to your site from.

The data is organized by medium (how the visitors are getting to your site – organic search, direct traffic, via email, via social media, and so on), source (where visitors are coming to your site from), and the number of active users – or, if you select the Page Views filter, the number of pageviews from that traffic source in the last 30 minutes.

This real-time report can be useful if, for example, you’ve had a few different mentions in the press recently and want to gauge which one is generating more traffic to your site, or if you’re running a social campaign and want to assess how well it’s working.

Content/Screens

The Content report (called Screens if you’re viewing analytics for a mobile app) shows which specific pages of your site visitors are currently active on, showing the page URL, the page title, and the number and percentage of active users on that page. Again, you can switch to viewing this by pageviews (or screen views) in the last 30 minutes instead of by active users.

Another handy feature of the real-time Content report is that it breaks down your user data by device, so you can see which percentage of visitors are accessing your site on desktop, mobile, and tablet.

Events

This report is useful if you’ve used Google Analytics’ Events feature to create custom events for interactions on your site – such as button clicks, downloads, video plays, ad clicks, and so on. More detailed, non-real-time data on Events can be found in the Behavior section of your Google Analytics dashboard.

You can then use the real-time data from this report to track the top events on your site as they occur, or switch to viewing those activated in the past 30 minutes. Google sub-divides these into Event Categories and Event Actions, and as with the Content report, also shows you the breakdown of which devices your visitors are using when they trigger Events.

Conversions

The Conversions report will track the real-time completion of any Goals you’ve set up in Google Analytics.

Goals are different to Events in that they track the completion of an activity that contributes to the success of your business, rather than just an interaction with your site. This can include making a purchase, filling in a sales form, subscribing to a mailing list, and so on. More detailed, non-real-time data about Goal completions can be found in the Conversions section of GA.

As with the previous two reports, the Real-Time Conversions report breaks down which devices your visitors are using when they convert, and also allows you to view the data by active users or by Goal Hits in the last 30 minutes.

How can you use real-time reports in your campaigns?

Testing and troubleshooting campaign setup

One very handy quick use for real-time reports in Google Analytics is to test that everything is set up and working correctly. Unlike with non-real-time reports, there’s no wait for data to begin displaying, so you can immediately tell if things are in order, or if there’s an issue you need to troubleshoot.

Maybe you’ve just set up a new tracking feature in GA, such as a new Event or Goal, and you want to make sure you’re registering the form submissions properly. Or you might have created a new tracking link for your email marketing campaign, and you want to test that it’s showing up in the reports as expected.

You can test these out by having someone from your team carry out the Event or Goal that you want to track, or click the link in your campaign email, and then monitoring real-time reports to make sure that the activity shows up correctly.

Monitor campaigns unfolding in real-time

As we mentioned earlier, it’s not always a good idea to get too bogged down in watching the numbers on your site go up and down – often, the best insights from a campaign can be gleaned after the fact, as it’s not always clear what’s taking place in the moment.

However, there are some types of campaign that benefit from real-time monitoring and influencing. For example, say you’re running a social campaign, and you want to adjust your level of activity in real time based on audience interaction.

Real-time reports are the best way for you to monitor this, and will tell you useful things like when activity from a post or a tweet has dropped off (meaning it’s time to push out the next one), turn on paid promotion, or ask influencers to give your campaign a boost.

Capitalize on what’s trending

You may also need to react in the moment to something that isn’t part of a pre-planned campaign. For example, sudden activity on a specific piece of content or on one of your social channels might alert you to a big press hit, or that particular topic suddenly being in the news.

Checking up on real-time reports every so often can tip you off to when this is happening, and allow you to respond in an agile fashion. If it’s a trending piece of content, you could spotlight it on your front page, or knock out a quick update or refresh.

If it’s a big press hit, you can monitor where the traffic is coming to your website from and plan how to capitalize on the attention: are lots of people finding you on Facebook? Can you update your Facebook page or push out some paid social advertising? If people are searching for your brand all of a sudden, now might be a good time to check how you appear for those search terms and if necessary, do some on-the-spot reputation management.

How do you make use of real-time reports in Google Analytics? If you have any novel ways of integrating these into a marketing campaign, share them in the comments!