Overcoming 4 black hat SEO techniques that spammers and scammers use to harm your search rankings

This might come as an utter shock, but not everyone on the web plays by the rules.

The dark side of SEO can be particularly crippling to a business if they aren’t aware of how to fight back.

All those algorithms Google and other search engines use to identify sites that demonstrate genuine value to its audience – and to reward accordingly with higher search rankings – also include mechanisms to suppress sites that do a poor job at offering relevant, useful information.

Unfortunately, competitors, scammers, and other disgruntled parties that want to digitally damage a business’ reputation have a number of negative SEO techniques at their disposal.

Here are four negative (or black hat) SEO tactics to keep a keen eye out for, and how you can protect your site – and your business – from being a victim.

1) Link farms and spammy backlinks have framed your site as the bad guy

In this particularly infuriating technique, bad actors will use link farms to direct high volumes of spam-quality links to your site. The attacker’s goal here is making it look like your site is trying to cheat the algorithms with a horrendously executed link-building campaign. Yes, it’s a digital frame job.

The malicious party will likely repeat content associated with the backlinks across a range of sites that themselves have negative reputations. By doing so, the search algorithms are certain to flag your site as engaging in bad SEO practices, and you will be penalized accordingly.

Checking for potential spammy backlinks

Your solution: Link monitoring and reporting

Up-to-date and accurate knowledge of where your website’s traffic is coming from is critical to stopping this. Recognizing a negative SEO backlink campaign in its earliest stages will help mitigate its detrimental effects.

Allowing it to proceed unchallenged for even a few weeks can result in significant damage to your site’s reputation that will be much more difficult to repair.

Active link monitoring is also a good habit to get into to proactively combat link farms and nefarious backlinks. When bad links point to your site, submit a list of the domains through Google Search Console and disavow these backlinks. Do this regularly to ensure that any spam links from unscrupulous domains do not influence your search rankings.

2) Someone is duplicating your original content and spreading it with link farms

High-quality content takes a good deal of effort to create, so perhaps it’s no surprise that other sites might be tempted to copy it from yours and present it as their own.

This is, of course, copyright infringement, and it is bad enough when done just for the benefit of the stolen content itself.

However, black hat SEO types like to take it a step further by scraping content before search engines crawl it. They then duplicate the content across link farms so that confused search engines actually penalize your site for posting spammed blog posts, whitepapers, or whatever great content you created.

Your solution: Report copyright infringement immediately

Again, vigilance is the answer. When you find that your content is being used elsewhere, an appropriate first step is to contact the site and let them know.

Ideally at this point, a known content contributor is responsible and the website’s management was wholly unaware (and will gladly take down what is not rightfully theirs).

If that option is exhausted and you still have an issue, however, the search engines need to be made aware. Use Google’s Online Copyright Infringement form to establish yourself as the rightful owner of the content in question; doing so will protect your site from SEO penalties related to that content.

3) Your site is hacked and content has been altered

Hacking and malware attacks are growing concerns for just about any website today, but the subtle application of these methods to harm your SEO may come as a surprise to many.

This technique is especially dangerous because it may go completely unnoticed: attackers that gain access to your site may target older or less viewed pages, or they might make changes that aren’t apparent on the surface.

A malicious actor with access to your site – perhaps the lifeblood of your business – is a scary prospect. They might fill your site with duplicated, low-quality, or unwholesome content that is sure to be flagged by search engines. Links on your webpages might also be redirected to problematic external sites.

Making matters worse, your content can be altered in several kinds of ways, including at the HTML level where only a careful look at the code can reveal what has actually been done.

Your solution: Site audits and monitoring

A watchful eye on webpage performance across your site can usually expose any anomalies caused by hacked content. For example, traffic spikes on pages with normally consistent traffic, new backlinks to old pages, abnormal backlinks, or ranking increases for abnormal keywords can be telltale signs of subtle content changes that need to be investigated.

Websites should also be sure to take care in controlling access to content. It is not unheard of in these situations that the culprit is actually a former employee or contributor, intent on causing mayhem by using legitimate credentials that should have been revoked when the business (and the site) parted ways with them.

4) Fake reviews are bringing down your company’s reputation

It remains relatively easy to fill review sites such as Yelp, Google, and a host of others with false and/or negative sentiments in an effort to discredit a business. These efforts can absolutely reduce your local SEO, which will almost assuredly hamper web traffic and sales.

Fake reviews can be recognized by a few typical attributes. A sudden spike in negative reviews, with no corresponding event to explain them, should immediately be suspect. Negative reviews all posted in the same window of a few hours or days are worth investigating as well.

Fake reviews tend to be short and not very descriptive, since there’s no actual experience for them to describe. The reviewers’ profiles offer clues as well: if a reviewer lacks a history of posting reviews, it may well be an account created specifically for this negative SEO attack.

Your solution: Report fake reviews

Any business can expect some degree of negative feedback, and most might even view it as useful criticism when appropriate. However, fake reviewers don’t require feedback or courtesy.

Review sites – including Google and Yelp, two of the most important to many businesses and their SEO – usually offer the review subject a mechanism for flagging fake reviews. Protect your site by being diligent in doing so.

The solutions above contain a clear running theme: the price of freedom from negative SEO is constant vigilance. By monitoring key metrics of your site and your digital presence (and taking swift action when necessary), you can keep your site and its standing with search engines safe no matter what black hat SEO types try.

Kim Kosaka is the Director of Marketing at alexa.com, whose tools provide insight into digital behavior that marketers use to better understand and win over their audience.

4 local SEO strategies for small and medium businesses

For small and medium businesses who want to compete on the same playing-field as much larger corporations with greater resources at their disposal, having a strong local SEO strategy is crucial.

Irrespective of what industry you’re in, you’ll always have at least one competitor who has been around longer and has allocated more budget and resources to building their visibility on the web and in search engines.

It may feel futile to try and compete with them in the realm of SEO.

But local SEO plays by slightly different rules to the regular kind. You don’t need to have reams of funding at your disposal or hundreds of links pointing to your site to be visible and relevant to a local audience – you just need to understand the unique characteristics of local SEO, and apply a few simple strategies to cater to them.

In this article, we’ll explore four cost-effective strategies that small and medium businesses can use to give themselves the best chance of ranking locally.

Verify your business’ Google Plus page

Your first step is to link your business’ Google Plus page with Google My Business. Google My Business allows SMEs to update their information across Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Plus in one fell swoop, to ensure that a potential customer can find you wherever they are and whatever device they’re on.

Local searches lead to more purchases than non-local searches, and verifying your Google Plus page makes it possible for you to monopolize the majority of the search results pages for your brand name, especially for the Local Business Card on the right.

Business owners need to realize that anyone can edit your business listing and this includes your competitors. Once you have provided Google My Business with all your details, it is very important to login to your Google My Business dashboard regularly to ensure that no one has attempted to make any unwanted changes to your listing.

Take advantage of the many interesting features available to businesses on Google My Business such as Google Posts, booking button feature, messaging, Questions & Answers, and more. The possibilities are limitless, get busy!

Pay-Per-Click advertising

Launching your website is only the first step. Implementing a marketing strategy that includes Pay-Per-Click advertising is an important part of small business success within the digital landscape.

Virtually every small business can benefit from implementing a pay-per-click marketing strategy to build its web presence. The idea is to identify targeted, relevant keywords, understand your target audience and develop a strategy that will drive the right types of leads.

Selling a product or service that is difficult for consumers to find locally makes your business a great candidate for PPC advertising campaigns. People often rely on internet searches to locate unusual or rare products.

On top of this, many local searches with high purchase intent take place on mobile, as consumers search for a business or service “near me” while they’re out and about. As PPC advertising dominates a greater proportion of screen space on mobile, having paid search ads in place will give you the best chance of appearing in front of consumers in these moments.

Learning to combine the strengths of both search and social media, pay-per-click will effectively round out any small business’ paid advertising strategy. Understanding the difference and when to use each platform will increase visibility and decrease cost.

Host user-generated reviews

Google sees reviews as a major factor for ranking on the new carousel design; however, more than anything your reviews are for Google users who see your company on a SERP. Peer-to-peer reviews are powerful because they give your potential customers a good sense of what it’s really like to use your goods or services.

In this regard, the internet has leveled the playing field for small businesses across the globe through the power and exposure of online user-generated reviews.

Search engine spiders like content that is unique and frequently updated, and user reviews are an easy way to create more of this. Content generated by users is often unique to the user, therefore, it is different from the generic content mostly used by e-commerce sites which is the same thing as the manufacturer description.

This, combined with the fact that the words and phrases used by reviewers are often the same as those used by searchers, increases the chances of ranking well for search queries that are relevant to your product.

When you consider that 88% of shoppers consider product reviews before making any purchase, it’s a safe bet to assume that more and more consumers will be searching for the name of your product along with the word ‘review’, or related words like ‘ratings’.

Get your visitors started by simply putting a button on your webpage to facilitate leaving a review, prompt visitors to leave a review after purchasing something or visiting a particular landing page, or talk directly with people in your store or company about leaving a review.

Optimize your images

Optimization for local SEO is not limited to text. Due to the increasingly blended nature of search results, you can now see images on the search listings page, so it’s important to optimize your imagery for search engines.

Ensure your images are search engine-friendly. It all starts with the file name. There are a billion and one images out there, so you don’t want to use a generic image file name like ‘image12345.jpg’ that will guarantee your business gets lost in the pile. Instead, you want to use something descriptive to make it easier for your images to compete in rankings.

Search engines can’t read images, so it is up to you to use alt tags to help describe your image to ensure it pops up during relevant queries. Write a concise, relevant description that contains the appropriate keywords. Don’t forget to write content above and below the images on your website, using keywords where appropriate; the more the text is related to the image, the better.

Most importantly, if you want your images to rank for localized keywords, make sure you add local keywords wherever you can for blended results optimized for a specific local area.

In short, there’s no elevator to rise to the top of the search engine rankings, especially when there’s a massive competitor lingering on the scene. But with a strategy that leverages your geographic location, you can selectively overcome your competitors in specific key areas.

Give yourself an advantage by narrowing your topic and keyword focus and increasing your location-specific relevance. You might not rank for as many keywords as the big players, but you will be able to surpass them in relevance for your chosen focal points.

If you want to dive further into local SEO strategies after reading these tips, the following articles will take you more in-depth:

How to create a kickass link-building strategy for local SEO
6 ways to market your local business online (beyond Google Maps)
How creating relevant experiences can boost your clicks on local search ads
How to optimize Google My Business listings for multi-location businesses

Pius Boachie is the founder of DigitiMatic, an inbound marketing agency.

How can you determine your website’s authority, and what can you do to improve it?

One of the most important and influential SEO metrics many marketers, and specifically content marketers, pay attention to is Domain Authority (DA).

The Domain Authority metric was developed by Moz as a means of quantifying your website’s relative importance as a whole – its authority.

It provides an insight into the SEO “strength” of your website, and its likelihood of ranking for certain keywords. Essentially, the higher this number is, the higher you’ll rank in the SERPs, and the more traffic you’ll have.

Like most SEO metrics, this number fluctuates based on several factors, and to improve your authority, you first need to determine where your website stands among the others online.

Not sure where to start? Compiled below is a guide to help you determine your website’s authority and improve your score.

Understanding Domain Authority

Before you determine your website’s authority, you should first understand the key components of DA. Domain Authority is scored on a one to 100 scale with 100 being the highest score a website can attain.

Here are some of the ways Moz determines your Domain Authority:

  • MozRank: In short, MozRank takes into account the number of links your website has, as well as the quality of those links. For example, if a website has 100 poor quality links, their MozRank score will be lower than that of a website that has 50 high-quality links within their website.
  • Root domains: Moz also looks at the number of different links your website has. The more websites you have linking to you, the higher your score in this area.
  • Search engine friendliness: We’ll look at technical SEO later on, but this factor takes into account how well your website interacts with search engines. Ultimately, Moz looks at how user-friendly your website is based on its overall structure.
  • Quality content: Google and other search engines take into account the quality of your website’s content. This is also the case with your Moz Domain Authority score. The higher quality content, the better your website will perform in this area.
  • Social media signals: When determining your Domain Authority score, Moz takes into account social media signals. The algorithm looks at how many times a piece of content has been shared, liked, or commented on via social media platforms.

How to determine your website’s authority

There are several places you can locate your website’s authority score: Open Site Explorer, MozBar, or the Keyword Explorer all show you your score.

Here’s an example of Search Engine Watch’s domain authority score in Open Site Explorer. You’ll notice the score is 86 out of 100, which is a relatively high-ranking score on the scale.

Next to the domain authority score you’ll find the page authority score, which ranks an individual page, as opposed to a whole website.

How to improve your website’s authority score

Improving your website’s domain authority isn’t as simple as changing your meta tags. It requires heavy research on your end.

However, there are ways of improving your domain authority. Before you take these steps, make sure you’re getting rid of bad links first. Removing any low-quality links first improves your website’s authority.

Work on your technical SEO

In order for your domain authority score to raise, ensure your technical SEO is up to par. This is the foundation of any SEO tactic when you’re trying to improve rankings in the SERPs. This includes doing a full audit on your meta tags, word count, keywords, alt tags, and site structure.

Here are some quick ways to work on your technical SEO:

  • Keywords: Make sure you’re not stuffing keywords into your content. This not only helps your SEO, it makes your content easier for your audience to read and process.
  • Meta description: Always make sure your meta description is filled out. Include your main keyword in your description.
  • Image optimization: Optimized images make your website load faster, and boost SEO.
  • Heading tags: This is basic, but it should be mentioned—use your H1, H2, and H3 heading tags for your main talking points.

Create content that’s linkable

Content marketing is another foundation that determines how high your DA score is. For this tactic to be successful, you need tons of content that’s shareable and linkable. If you’re not creating content that others want to link to, you won’t have any strong backlinks in your profile.

Start by creating long-form, quality content that’s informational and relevant to your industry or niche. But your content shouldn’t start and end with written content. Infographics and video content are also linkable and can help your website gain traction.

Creating lots of content requires manpower and budget, but it’s one of the most effective SEO tactics that also improves your DA score.

Link internally

There’s a lot of push to get marketers to focus on backlinking. Backlinking does help your DA score, but so does linking to other pages within your website. This is another place where your large amount of content comes into play.

The more content you produce, the more you’ll be able to link to other places on your website. Interlinking builds a strong foundation that helps search engine crawl bots determine how authoritative your website actually is.

Share on social media

Because social media signals are a huge factor, it’s important to share your content on all your social media platforms. Not only does this help your domain authority score, it also brings more traffic to your website.

It helps to add social media link buttons to all of your content—this makes it even easier for your visitors to share your content on their own social media pages.

The takeaway

Your domain authority score is based on several factors. If you look at those factors, you’ll notice two trends—technical SEO and content marketing. These are two of the most important themes to follow when improving the quality of your website.

Make sure your website is optimized for both the user and search engines by focusing on good technical SEO. Create engaging, quality content that’s easily shareable by your audience. Follow these steps and your domain authority will increase over time.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Let us know in the comment section below.

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for No Risk SEO, an all-in-one reporting platform for agencies. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn, or check out her content services at amandadisilvestro.com.

How videos generate quick SEO results

In January 1996, Bill Gates published an essay titled ‘Content is king’. Seeing where content is right now in the online space, you won’t be wrong in calling Bill Gates a soothsayer.

But he couldn’t have foreseen the kind of content that would dominate the online space: video.

Videos have a hegemonic online presence.

But, why video?

People are more inclined to watch a video. Do this little experiment:

Search for Red Bull or Monster Energy or Vice in Bing. You are sure to get video results right at the top. That’s because these brands have focused their branding on video content, and hence are more likely to be popular as more and more people watch videos.

Now search for Lockheed, Gatorade or Bose, in Bing and you’re way less likely to find a first-page video result.

Not to take anything away from these brands and their popularity, but it shows when your content strategy isn’t as video focused or oriented towards emerging internet consumer trends.

Red Bull and Monster Energy have become inescapable names because they have tapped the potential of video content and published an innumerable variety of content not related to sports and other fields.

What’s in it for you?

You might not be a media and content-oriented company, but you should still consider the perks of having videos for your products and services. According to MWP, online video now accounts for half of all traffic on mobile alone, and 59% of senior executives say that they will opt for video when given the choice between video and text.

Incidentally, in understanding the ‘why’ of video popularity, we’ll also get the answer to how videos generate great SERP rankings.

Why are videos so popular?

Strong emotional connection

A video is very accessible, easy to consume and engages the audience’s attention for longer periods of time. A video contains much more information than text and images.

It conveys emotions, actions and can explain concepts and idea very easily. No wonder videos have 41% higher click-through rate than plain text, and high conversion rates and ROI on top of that.

How does it help SEO?

The ease, accessibility, and immersion of video means that people spend a longer time watching content that you produce.

If you can make an engaging video, people spend more time on your webpage, increasing the what is called the ‘dwell time’. Dwell time was mentioned in a Bing blog way back in 2011.

Source: Bing blogs

More dwell time directly translates to Google recognizing your video and the page it’s featured on as something of value. The more dwell time you have, the better your pages will be ranked. Sweet!

According to Martech.zone, a well-optimized video can increase your chances of getting featured on the front page of Google by as much as a factor of 53.

The inherent engaging qualities of video also means that it has an astounding worldwide audience penetration.

Which brings us to:

The inescapable reach of video

Source: YouTube for Press

YouTube alone has over a billion users across continents consuming content in 76 different languages. Its reach is enormous.

Video is the go-to, easy to consume, preferred form of content for many people. According to research by Hubspot, 62% of people thoroughly consume videos, and 53% people expect more video content from any platform.

Internet video traffic is expected to grow four times and constitute 81% of ALL consumer traffic by 2021.

There is a natural inclination for search engines to favor videos due to the consumer trends in video consumption.

With so many people watching videos all the time, aided by mobile phones and ever-developing tech and techniques, video content is bound to surge your overall brand image to the top of the search results page.

Video advertising was started in Yahoo and Bing as far back as in 2015, and has been massively effective for them and their clients. But you don’t have to spend money on video ads. Simply having a market-relevant video means that your name is more likely to get featured in a top search listing.

How videos are featured in the SERPs

Google has been rolling out and beta testing many video-related features. A mere 7 months back I started noticing Google showing ‘suggested clips’ for various search results. Now, it’s an all-out feature to list relevant snippets of videos in SERPs.

A great way to feature in ‘suggested clips’ results is to make how-to videos. Your brand can be a hundred different things, but there is always room for making how-to videos.

Don’t know what to record?

Make a behind the scenes video of an event or your daily office happenings. Get some groovy editing and publish it with a ‘How to run an (industry name) office’. Whip in some humor and you’re sure to get your name thrown around SERPs.

Google’s image content readability is scarily good, and now it’s in for videos as well.

Still in beta, Google has been experimenting with identifying elements of video content to show relevant search results. It’s sure that this will be a part of their regular algorithm.

Source: The Verge

Your video content will have an immense impact on what the end user gets in their search results. This is perhaps the next peak time for getting your video content published regularly.

You might have seen a variation of this image identifying feature in other places.

If you own an Android phone, you might have come across the Google Photos app grouping together similar faces, places, and things. Or you might have seen various CAPTCHAs across the web asking you to identify sign boards, cars, buses and what have you.

Expect similar machine learning to be applied to video content, if more sophisticated. One single video can carry thousands of image elements. When Google’s Video Intelligence API catalogs all those keywords, that would give your video a huge SEO advantage. Just make sure to include elements in your video catering to the industry or keyword you are targeting.

Source

There are reasons aplenty and means uncountable to get better in video marketing and to get featured in top results. There are many nitty-gritty details to take care of, but through it all, there are some very basic rubrics that establish the foundation for good video publishing.

Up next are some simple ways to phenomenally increase the chances of getting your video content to the top of the SERPs.

Best practices for getting your video higher up the SERP

Make short videos

Aim for 1-2 minute videos. You can easily shoot up to 4 minutes, but anything after that means you will start losing significant viewership.

Source: Wistia

Transcribe your video script

Even though Google is getting pretty darn good at parsing video content for context-based searches, transcribed text helps its bots crawl your content with more accuracy. Means you are more likely to get featured for a much broader variety of internet searches.

Social shareability and multi-platform hosting

More platforms mean more reach. Make sure your content is omnipresent. Upload your videos to YouTube, Wistia, Facebook, Twitter, your own hosting platform, or cross-share between all the other platforms to ensure your video content is always there when needed.

Source: YouTube

Cross-share only if you can’t natively upload to other social media platforms. You will gain phenomenal relevance, recognition, organic traffic, and SEO from native uploads and virality.

One study actually showed native videos in Facebook getting ten times more shares than YouTube video links.

Optimizing videos

Keep your video metadata relevant and updated. Add relevant titles, subtext, add descriptions, tags, make transcriptions and subtitles so your video is efficiently crawled by search engine bots.

XML sitemaps

Submit a video sitemap to Google along with some information using webmaster tool. It helps you to index your page better.

Custom, high-quality thumbnails

Make custom, high-quality, topical thumbnails that catch the eye. Click-bait thumbnail images might net you immediate views, but are bad for your reputation in the long run. You can even include text to give some context for the viewer.

Conclusion

Great immersion, endless capabilities, conveys emotions, global reach, occasionally no language barriers: videos are your cornerstone for a great marketing strategy. They give you front page results, get more conversions and are rising to be the most consumed online content.

You see, in many ways, a video is much like a trebuchet.

You might have a capable marketing force that gives results, but a trebuchet enhances your tactical abilities. It lets you mount a market assault with ease, from a safe distance and gives great results. Besides, a well-made trebuchet looks pretty, much like a well-made video.

Videos are your trebuchets. They look good, carry huge SEO value and make your brand a force to reckon with. Get them.

The 2018 guide to rich results in search

Over the past few years, Google’s SERPs have become progressively more enhanced and detailed.

Users require as much information as possible before deciding which result to place their trust in and click through to. It’s therefore no surprise then that rich results have become increasingly prominent.

Rich results are essentially a way of highlighting your website’s content in the SERPs.

They are the search results which have a little extra panache, in which Google displays more information about the result rather than just the traditional title, URL and meta description. This could include a star review, specific product information or even recipe details.

In this guide, we’ll look at what’s new with rich results in 2018, as well as how to give yourself the best chance of getting them.

Benefits of rich results

Previously known as rich snippets, rich cards, or enriched results, Google have now put an end to the terminology confusion and allocated ‘rich results’ as the preferred term. You are probably already aware that these fancy pants search results require the implementation of structured data on your site.

But before we look at the how, let’s look at the why. The benefits of using structured data markup are clear to see:

Easier for search engines to crawl your site and understand the page, enabling them to return more relevant and detailed results. Frankly, anything that makes a search engine’s life easier is a win.
Increased click-through rates due to an enhanced appearance in the results. Information is more clear and it is a way of standing out from other results.
Decreased bounce rate due to the improved relevancy of results.

At the time of writing, the general consensus is that structured data is not a ranking factor. However, the combination of more relevant results, increased CTRs and decreased bounce rate are all factors which can indirectly lead to a rankings boost. At the very least, they will lead to increased website traffic, which is not something to be sniffed at.

Structured data & schema markup

Structured data is essentially information about a webpage and its content. There are three commonly known types of structured data: JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa.

JSON-LD is the most recommended structured data type, primarily because it is the most clean and readable format. Given that it is personally recommended by Google, it’s really a no-brainer to deploy JSON-LD as the standard format.

Wait, so what’s schema markup? While JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa are the formats, schema is the language (or semantic vocabulary). It’s the universal code for structured markup that all search engines can understand.

Structured data can be tricky to get right, especially if you’re not particularly technically-minded. Before you stand any chance of achieving those sought after rich results, Google will analyse and assess your markup to ensure it is correct.

However, it’s important to clarify that getting it wrong won’t harm your organic traffic, as long as you don’t use the markup to refer to hidden content. If you get it wrong then your rich results simply won’t show, so you’ll be no worse off than you were to begin with. Don’t be afraid of structured data, it doesn’t bite.

Rich results test

In December last year, Google announced the launch of a Rich Results Testing Tool. The primary function of this tool is to let you know whether your page is eligible for rich results.

Simply plug in your URL, hit submit and then preview the different rich results available for your page. Another handy function is the ability to share results – perfect for showing off your markup prowess to your boss, or highlighting some essential SEO flaws to a new client. Plus, if your pages are eligible for rich results, you can also Submit To Google via the testing tool.

It is important to note that the tool is still in beta mode and therefore does not provide comprehensive results as yet. This will undoubtedly be expanded on in the near future.

Currently, only the tests for recipes, job postings, movies, and courses are supported. As a result, if your structured data markup falls outside of these categories then the test may not yet be suitable.

Until the full version is rolled out, however, don’t forget that you can still use the original Structured Data Testing Tool. Although this won’t tell you whether a page is eligible for rich results, it will tell you if your markup is valid. You can therefore address any issues with the structured data quickly and efficiently.

Patience is a virtue

One of the slightly frustrating aspects of implementing structured data is that it can take 2-3 weeks for a page to appear as a rich result. However, if you ensure that you are re-indexing your pages following structured data implementation then this will speed up the process.

On top of that, there is no guarantee that your structured data will correspond to a rich result at all. By implementing structured data, you are enabling the rich results functionality, but don’t have a right to it.

Of course, there is a whole array of other reasons why rich results may not be displaying. This could be to do with the accuracy of your structured data, including hidden content in the markup, or failing to follow the guidelines. Whereas previously you would have to wait a few weeks to know whether your markup has done the job, you can now use the new testing tool.

Final words

In short, implementing structured data should be a priority for your SEO campaigns in 2018, if you haven’t already.

The benefits of rich results are plain to see and the launch of Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool is only testament to the importance being placed on these enhanced search results.

Providing as much relevancy and detailed information as possible to the user in the SERPs will always be a priority to the search engines. If you can be a part of this then your website will be in the best possible position to benefit from rich results.

The rise of personal searches: How can content marketers take advantage?

As marketers in the ever-changing world of digital, success depends on knowing what consumers want and expect from us. After all, it’s the only way we can deliver.

So, it’s interesting to see that a recent data release from Google tells us that personalized search is becoming more and more prominent among internet users.

No longer are they turning to friends and family for personal advice and recommendations, but search engines too.

Of course, we already knew that… that’s why we work so hard at getting to know our audience and understanding their micro-moments and pain points, delivering the right content at the right time, in the right way.

But what Google is telling us is that rather than searching, “How often should you wash your hair?”, we are now searching “How often should I wash my hair?”. Changing those two little words is making the way that we use search engines far more personal than ever before.

And the data suggests that consumers now truly trust that their most specific needs can be answered by content on the web. In fact, in the last two years Google has reported that mobile searches using “…for me” has grown by a huge 60% over the last two years.

On top of this, they have also seen an 80% increase in mobile searches including “…should I?”. As a result, we really are treating search as one of our best, most trusted friends.

And that’s great news for content marketers.

For those of us working in motor, beauty, finance, fitness and pet care, it seems that this new insight is especially relevant – these are the industries in which users are most frequently turning to Google to solve their personal pain points.

How can we prepare and optimize our content for these types of search?

Tools

Creating calculators and tools is a brilliant way of targeting personal search terms and providing our users with the personalized response they are looking for. Let’s use a fitness example to demonstrate this:

This recent data circulation from Google suggests that users are starting to search for something like, “how much water should I drink each day?” in higher volumes than something like, “how much water should you drink per day?”.

Now, most of us know that the answer to this question will depend on a number of different factors including gender, body composition, activity level and so on.

What our audience is expecting from this search is a personalized answer that takes all of these things into consideration and tells them exactly how much water they should personally be drinking each day.

A water consumption calculator would do this well, and if the user wants the specificity of an individual result, they will be willing to fill in the necessary personal details to retrieve it. A blog post that simply states the average recommended fluid intake for a man or a woman as recommended by the NHS is no longer user focused enough.

Case studies and testimonials

Providing personalized content will not always be easy, and at times users may need encouragement to spend a little longer on a page to find the personalized answer they are looking for. In this instance, case studies and testimonials are a great way to push users further through their journey in the right direction.

For example, “How much money do I need to retire?” is a more complex question than our fitness example. There are so many variants that could alter the accurate and personalized response to this question, so it’s difficult to answer it quickly in a personalized way.

However, if we provide users with a testimonial or case study at the right stage in their journey – one that was created after a lot of persona research and uses someone or a situation that will resonate with them – they are likely to engage with the content.

Creating engagement via a case study will increase the likelihood that they’ll enquire with your brand for a more personalized answer, continuing their journey on their way to the personalized answer they are looking for.

Hygiene content

Informational content (something we refer to here at Zazzle as ‘hygiene content’) is absolutely essential in light of this evolution of search.

It’s critical that all the informational content and resources on your website are up to date, and as specific to the different types of users you’re expecting to visit your site as possible. Not only this, but ensuring that on-page content is optimised for longtail search (tying back to your personas) is a must.

Moreover, having a clear call to action that points the user in the direction of personalized answers to their questions is also important. It isn’t always possible to answer their query in an individualized way using written content, but pointing the user towards a ‘contact us here’ call to action could make all the difference in their user journey, and ultimately, whether they end up with you or your competitor.

Thought leadership and expert content

Finally, with consumers turning to search like a trusted friend or family member more than ever before, you need to ensure that the content you’re putting out there is seen as being the most reliable. Therefore, it’s never been more important to be viewed as a thought leader within your field.

Expert content will naturally help to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship. It also means that when you are appearing in SERPs, your expert reputation will stand you in good stead when it comes to users choosing which ‘friend’ they want to seek advice from.

We can’t wait to see how the evolution of search changes the way that Google is rewarding and penalizing brands’ content. The above is just a start, but we are certain we will be kept on our toes as time goes on!

Pinterest Lens one year on: Where is Pinterest’s visual search tool now?

It’s been a year since Pinterest announced the launch of Lens, its new visual search tool. How has it evolved since then?

When Pinterest Lens launched in 2017, it was the latest – and boldest – step in Pinterest’s evolution from a visual social network into a powerful visual search tool.

Pinterest knew that there was great potential to blend its “inspiration”-focused online platform, full of enticing DIY, craft, beauty and recipe ideas, with the offline world to help its users make their ideas into reality. The goal was to offer a camera search that helps you discover online what you come across in the offline world.

The idea seemed ambitious, but Pinterest made it clear at the time that its Lens technology was still developing, encouraging users to help it build a powerful tool:

“Lens is still learning, and doesn’t always recognize exactly what you’re looking for.

Lens will stay in beta as it gets even better at recognizing all the things. And that’s where you come in!

If you get results that feel a little meh, tap the new + button to add feedback and help Lens get better at finding ideas inspired by whatever you just Lensed. As more and more people help teach Lens about more and more objects, soon it will earn its way out of the beta zone.”

A year on from this announcement, how has Pinterest’s visual discovery evolved – and what has the impact of Pinterest’s Lens tool been on the wider industry?

The evolution of Lens

In a news post celebrating the one-year anniversary of Lens, Pinterest revealed some significant stats about the growth of Lens:

  • There are now twice as many Pinterest users who use Lens every day, compared to 6 months ago
  • People carry out more than 600 million visual searches with Lens every month, which marks an increase of 140% year-over-year

According to Pinterest, the more people searched, the better Lens got. Several new developments over the past year have also contributed to Lens’ growth:

  • Lens was moved to the front of Pinterest’s app and they have also created shortcuts to facilitate the fast search
  • Pinterest introduced Pincodes, a QR-code-esque technology, to help users seamlessly switch between Pinterest and the offline world
  • Lens your Look has also been launched to “bring together text and image searches in one query”, and encourage people to use Pinterest for outfit inspiration
  • A partnership with Samsung brought the Lens to the latest smartphones worldwide, while Target activated visual search to their products
  • The visual search technology now understands more than five times as many things as it did a year ago. This means that you can now search for recipes, clothes, and countless objects for your home with increasing accuracy.

What’s next for Lens

Pinterest has announced that their next step includes an enhanced image search that also allows you to include it in your text search. Starting with iOS apps, people will be able to include an image to their text search to make their discoveries easier.

This will help users find exactly what they’re looking for by benefiting from all the elements of a consideration journey. They can start with an object they’ve come across in an actual shop, they use Pinterest’s Lens to discover it and if they are not able to purchase it directly through a pin, they can use the image to include text search and find more details about it.

This feature is also expected to roll out to Android users soon and it aims to make visual search even more useful. It is a clever way to include the benefits of visual and text search to help both the consumers, but also the retailers in strengthening their customer journey between the online and the offline world.

The future of visual search

The growth of Pinterest Lens shows how visual search is steadily gaining traction as a genuine tool and not just a novelty. Pinterest is also not the only player in this space: three months after the launch of Pinterest Lens, Google debuted its own version of the tool, Google Lens.

Soon afterwards, Bing released an update to its visual search capabilities which allowed users to search for a specific object within images – a noticeably Pinterest-like feature.

Pinterest is clearly blazing a trail in the visual search space which has left the other big players in search scrambling to catch up.

Above, Pinterest’s “search within image” feature, and below, Bing’s strikingly similar capability

Pinterest seems to be aware of its product’s value, and is heading in the right direction to make it profitable.

Pinterest already had a strong business proposition which capitalized on the fact that its users would come to its platform for inspiration on everything from fashion to design, food to furniture. With the introduction of Shoppable Pins, Pinterest was able to monetize this, allowing users to actually buy the components of their new dream house, garden or outfit.

Now, Pinterest Lens has made that possible in the offline world, too.

Business Insider has foreseen a bright future for mobile visual search technology, releasing a new report which cites “strong evidence that mobile visual search technology will take off in the near future, including growing access to technology, strong usage rates of camera-related apps, and early indication of potential revenue growth”.

By getting into the visual search space early and investing heavily in developing the technology, Pinterest has put itself in an excellent position to be the leader in visual search going forward.

While visual search has yet to truly cross over into the mainstream, the foundations have been laid, and the statistics shared on Lens’ one-year anniversary paint a positive picture for the future.

Everything you need to know about the Google Chrome ad blocker

Google launches a new version of its Chrome web browser today (February 15), which will include an in-built ad blocker to try and eradicate intrusive ads from the browsing experience.

There are some clear standards and some unanswered questions relating to this new approach, so what exactly do marketers need to know?

Google announced last year that certain ad types would be blocked automatically within Chrome. This seemingly seismic update is due to go live today in the latest upgrade to the world’s most popular web browser.

The integration of an ad blocker within Google Chrome is just a small part of a much bigger movement to improve the quality of online advertising, however.

This has been driven by consumers, who are increasingly frustrated with ads that interrupt and distract them from the content they want to view. As people spend more time on mobile devices and advertisers invest more in video, that tension has only heightened.

The survey results in the image above tally with the findings from Google’s own research. Axios revealed recently that Google has found two concerning trends when analyzing user behavior on Chrome:

  • One-in-five Chrome feedback reports mentions annoying/unwanted ads
  • There were 5+ billion mutes from people using Google’s “mute this ad” feature in 2017
  • Of course, this has led to huge growth in the adoption of ad blockers over the last few years. Consumers have found these to be an easy and convenient solution, but this is not a permanent stance.

    There is a widespread acceptance that if advertisers can provide some value to consumers, the latter will be much more receptive to the messaging.

    ad_blockers

    Worryingly for advertisers and publishers, the growth in mobile ad blocker usage has been very notable and that trend has been particularly marked in the Asia-Pacific region over the past 12 months.

    Many publishers have implemented “ad block walls”, which do not allow access to their content for users with an ad blocker installed. That approach is only a stop-gap measure and does not strike at the heart of the issue, however.

    It is pretty clear which way the wind is blowing, so Google is aiming to take a modicum of control over the prevailing trend rather than ignore it altogether. Third-party ad blockers, after all, might also end up blocking ads from the Google Display Network.

    Moreover, Chrome accounts for 62% of the mobile browser market and 59% of desktop, so it certainly has the clout to make a difference.

    And yet, there is a fine balance to strike here between permitting the ads that fuel so much of the digital economy, while precluding those that are overly intrusive. Google, of course, has much to lose if it adopts an overzealous approach, but much to gain if it can become the arbiter of the correct standards for digital advertising.

    Which ads will be affected?

    The standards by which the Chrome ad blocker will operate are based on the guidelines set by the Coalition for Better Ads. Google is on the board that sets these regulations, but so are many other influential bodies, including the Association of National Advertisers, Unilever, and Facebook.

    This collective set out to pinpoint the ad experiences that consumers found to be overly negative when browsing. The research (which can be viewed here) revealed certain types of ad that are most typically tied to negative experiences.

    The desktop web experiences that will be affected are:

    desktop ads

    While the mobile ad types that will be affected are:

    Of course, these are broad categories and there are levels of sophistication within each. Google has added the stipulation that publishers have a 7.5% non-compliance threshold before their ads are blocked.

    There is also an element of common sense to be applied here. We have all been subjected to the kinds of ads that this initiative targets, whether they are full-screen auto-play videos or pop-up ads that feel impossible to close.

    How will Google enforce this?

    Significantly, Google estimates that just 1% of publishers will be affected in the short-term by the new ad blocker. It would be fair to say that the approach to cutting out sub-par ads has more in common with a scalpel than an axe. After all, Google knows better than anyone that advertising supports the vast majority of what we see online.

    Wes MacLaggan, SVP of Marketing at Marin Software, commented to Search Engine Watch that:

    These new standards are meant to create a better user experience for consumers, and ultimately encourage fewer ad blocking installations. In the short term, we’ll see some ad formats and advertisers shut off. These advertisers and publishers will need to invest in more quality ads, while publishers will no longer be able to rely on monetizing with intrusive formats.

    Google will also alert sites that are at the “warning” or “failing” level on its scale, to provide an opportunity to clean up their ads. The search giant reports that 37% of sites that were initially in violation of their standards have since made changes to improve the quality of their ads.

    Websites that violate the new standards will be given 30 days to remove the offending ads from their sites or Google will block their ads.

    Chrome Ad Blocker

    How will this affect advertisers and publishers?

    It is a sign of how much the industry has changed that this is not quite the doomsday scenario it would have been for many just a few years ago.

    The business model that drives so many publishers has been under threat for some time now. The move to a digital-first publishing world could only really be supported by a revenue model based on digital advertising, but unfortunately it has proved highly challenging to square this with the consumer’s best interests.

    The ultimate aim for Google, via Chrome, is both ambitious and idealistic: to work with publishers and advertisers to create a customer-centric browsing experience. There are some clear statements on this from the Coalition for Better Ads, including the following:

    The Coalition encourages advertisers, publishers, and advertising technology providers to review its research and the initial Better Ads Standards, as part of their efforts in the marketplace to improve the online ad experience.

    • Advertisers can use the initial Better Ads Standards to inform campaign development and execution
    • Publishers can use the initial Better Ads Standards to develop improved experiences for their audiences
    • Ad technology platforms can use the initial Better Ads Standards in the development process for new ad experiences
    • Providers of measurement technologies can use the initial Better Ads Standards to develop new ways to assess marketplace prevalence of the ad experiences preferred by consumers

    Wes McLaggan of Marin Software has some further advice for advertisers as they take stock of how this update may affect them:

    High quality, relevant ads are always going to perform better than those shouting to get a user’s attention. Marketers should leverage all targeting options to put the right ad in front of the right person. Ads should also reflect the user’s frame of mind when they are on that platform. There isn’t a one-size fits all approach for in-stream video on Facebook, Instagram Stories and display ads on a website. In short, digital advertisers should let user engagement, relevance, and ad quality be their guide.

    Although an in-built ad blocker that initially affects 1% of publishers will not drive a fundamental shift in digital consumer-advertiser relationships on its own, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

    8 tips for boosting the speed of your WordPress site

    Chances are you’d not have waited for this page to load had it taken a second or two longer.

    That’s the truth – users expect web pages to load pretty much as soon as they click on a hyperlink.

    Slow loading web pages can become the leading cause of high bounce rates, low user engagement, lost traffic opportunities, and abandoned sales journeys. Here are some numbers to put things in perspective.

    • 47% of users expect a web page to load in less than 2 seconds.
    • 40% of online shoppers abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
    • A 1 second delay in page loading can lead to a 16% dip in customer satisfaction, a 7% dip in conversions, and a 11% dip in page views.

    What’s more, ecommerce websites associate fast loading with increased revenue, and the reverse is also true.

    The calling is clear: your websites need to load super quickly to sustain and nurture audience attention, avoid high bounce rate, and prevent abandoned sales.

    If you have a WordPress site, there are a number of easy and effective methods you can begin using today that will significantly increase your site’s loading speed.

    Use grids and floats instead of nested tables

    It’s surprising how many websites still continue to use nested tables, in spite of the negative impact they have on page loading speeds. Here’s what a nested table code looks like:

    ………

    Such coding adds additional burden on the browser, delaying complete loading of the content. Instead, use non-nested table structure as follows:

    ...
    ...

    More importantly, use floats and grids to enhance loading speed. Here is a basic float example:

    Basic float example

    Sample text

    Sample text

    Reduce the number of HTTP requests

    A web page consists of several components – stylesheets, Flash components, images, scripts, and more. To deliver content rich experiences, you need to opt for entire PageSpeed Insights Optimization process.

    More the number of elements per page, more the number of HTTP requests made for each of these, resulting in longer page loading time durations, which could hurt your conversions. Yahoo estimates that almost 80% of page loading time is accounted for the time spent in downloading the different elements of the page.

    Use the HTTP requests checker tool to find out how many requests your page makes.

    Luckily, you can reduce HTTP requests without ruining your web design. Here’s how:

    • Combine files: Use scripts and external style sheets (but don’t have more than one script and CSS file each.
    • Image maps: Use contiguous images instead of several image blocks, to reduce the number of HTTP requests.
    • CSS Sprites: Combine multiple images to a sprite, and call the sprite instead of each image. When the sprite contains images from internal pages also, the internal page load times improve, because the content is already downloaded before the user reaches there.
    • Make smaller Javascript blocks inline.
    • Convert images to Base64 coding using an encoder; because it transforms an image into code, the HTTP request is prevented.

    Break comments into pages

    Your most popular content posts could also be the ones loading the slowest, because of the hundreds of comments on the page. You can’t block comments, because they are conversation starters and link builders for you.

    How do you manage, then? WordPress offers a very smart solution – break the comment stream into pages.

    In the Dashboard, go to Settings. Under the section Other comment settings, you can tweak the settings for how many comments appear on a page, and which page is displayed beneath the article.

    Upgrade to the latest PHP version

    Upgrading your website every time a new PHP version is launched can be a bit of a headache. But it’s worth your time and effort. The same scripts could run almost 25-30% faster on newer PHP versions; imagine the kind of website loading time improvements it can bring for you.

    PHPClasses published an extensive experimental study, which highlighted that scripts ran significantly faster on PHP 7.1 as compared to previous versions.

    Gzip compression

    If you use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool for a quick analysis of your web pages, it’s likely you will find advice to use Gzip compression. This compression enables web servers to compress heavy website content elements.

    The compression is so effective that it could reduce your page size to 30-40% of its initial size. Dolloped speeds, because of this, could increase to three or four times their previous speed.

    For many webmasters, installing a Gzip compression plugin continues to be the best option. W3 Total Cache plugin, apart from all its amazing features, also offers HTTP compression.

    Other options are:

    • Ask your web host if it offers Gzip compression.
    • Manually enable Gzip compression via .htaccess (this guide by Kinsta explains how to do so)

    Don’t let ad scripts and pop-ups spoil user experience

    Chances are you run at least some form of pop-up to optimize conversions. As beneficial as these might be for your website’s monetization strategies, they may also be causing significant damage in terms of higher page loading times.

    To take control and strike the perfect balance, you need to know the third-party scripts running on your website, their source, and their impact.

    I recommend Pingdom’s Website Speed Test for a thorough analysis of each file and script from a webpage. The tool will tell you which script takes the most time to load.

    Gauge the effectiveness of your pop-ups; do away with non-performing pop-up plugins, as they’re only slowing down your page. OptinMonster is one of the most reliable pop-up plugins, helping you optimize conversions without killing speed.

    Install a caching plugin

    Caching plugins can be a blessing for your website; these plugins create static copies of your webpage content, and instead of making to and fro queries to the database, use the static versions to immediately showcase the web content to users. Since you ordinarily won’t update your web pages daily, caching proves to be very useful for almost all web pages, always.

    Among the many caching plugins you can use, WOT Cache Plugin enjoys a lot of trust and popularity. Among its many features are:

    • Combines CSS and Javascript files
    • Leverages the power of page caching and browser caching
    • Utilizes lazy load to massively improve the page load time
    • Helps with database optimization and removes query strings from CSS/Javascript files
    • Saves a lot of bandwidth by reducing the file size of the webpages.

    Bonus tip: Seek help from your web hosting service provider

    It makes sense to move to a dedicated hosting plan, so that your website gets all the resources it needs to load in a jiffy, always. Ask your web host as to what help it can provide you to improve your website speed.

    Most web hosts are willing to offer their technical expertise to help you pluck the low hanging fruits in terms of your website’s speed issues. This, in turn, benefits them, as the load on their servers reduces.

    Particularly, ask for their advice on optimizing mobile website speed, because the impact of slow loading is much severe on mobile devices.

    Concluding remarks

    Every few milliseconds of improvement in your web page’s loading speed could bring tens of percentage point of improvements in its traffic and conversion rates.

    Start with these easy and practical tips, most of which will result in almost immediate improvements in page loading speed for your website.

    A beginner’s guide to display advertising

    If you are a business looking to dive into display advertising, it can be overwhelming.

    In an increasingly digital world, where everybody’s eyes are glued to a screen, most advertising can seem like white noise. So you want to make sure you’re designing and promoting worthwhile ads in a proper venue.

    Here we’ll go over some simple best practices for creating a display ad: how to decide where to advertise, and what type of advertising you want to pursue. You can reach out to websites directly and do the dirty work yourself, or you can also utilize a marketing network to manage your marketing.

    Lastly, you want to make sure that you are spending your dollars wisely, so you’ll need to measure the impact of your campaign.

    What are the main types of display advertising?

    Display advertising is a bit of a blanket term because it covers just about any visual advertisement on a website. However, this broad category can be divided up into a few main types:

    Site placement advertising: This is when a marketer/advertiser chooses the site they would like to advertise on.
    Contextual advertising: This is when you advertise your product or service on a website with similar content. IE- promoting wedding dresses on a honeymoon destination website.
    Remarketing advertising: These ads appear when a user has already been to your website. A service uses cookies to track the visit, and then your ad would appear on another website they visit, and ideally this causes the user to return to your website. This would be done through a marketing network like Google Display Network (more on that later).
    Display ad standards

    When it comes to digital advertising, there are standards that both advertisers and publishers must adhere to.

    The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is an organization that provides insight on industry standards for digital media. In its display ad guidelines, the IAB states that display ads should be “distinguishable from normal web page content and the ad unit must have clearly defined borders and not confused with normal web content”.

    They also recommend flexible ad sizing, meaning the ad units are defined by aspect ratios that can adjust based on the screen size the user is viewing. In their guide to ad sizes, Google lists top performing ad sizes as 300×350 (medium rectangle), 336×280 (large rectangle), 728×90 (leaderboard), 300×600 (half page), and 320×100 (large mobile banner).

    Display ad creation best practices

    When working on design it is important to create ads that are unique and clearly identify your goal, here are some simple practices for creation.

    Make sure you are relevant

    Ads need to be relevant to your audience as well as your main objective. You want to entice a viewer, not annoy them.

    If you are using contextual display advertising, your ad is already on a website with similar content to your product. When a user clicks on your ad, it’s important that it leads to a corresponding landing page, not just your main website.

    For instance, if the viewer clicks on a banner ad for a Valentine’s Day sale, you should have this link to a stand-alone landing page that focuses on that topic, not your main ecommerce site.

    Keep mobile in mind

    Display ads were originally geared towards a desktop user, and mobile users were considered second. However tides have turned and that has flipped around.

    According to recent eMarketer research 70.5% of all display ads in the US are mobile. Meaning depending on the audience you are trying to target, you may want to create ads with mobile-viewing in mind first.

    Compelling, concise, clear design

    Google Marketing advises to use the “3 C’s” when it comes to creating display ads: compelling, concise, clear. You want your ad to stand out by using eye-catching design, with a clear call to action button (CTA).

    Use high resolution images. Display ads can be very compact, so your pitch and CTA need to be brief. Lastly, your marketing goal needs to be clear, only advertise one message- sign up now, check out our holiday sale, etc. You want to avoid overloading your viewer.

    How to start display ad marketing

    With site placement advertising you can directly approach a website or publisher on your own. This could work for a small local business that knows its market.

    For instance, if you are an event planning company, you could approach your local chamber of commerce about advertising on their website. However, depending on your digital marketing goals, it might be better to work with a third-party service.

    Here are three popular options:

    Google Display Network

    This is the display ad arm of Google AdWords. Google Display Network offers over 2 million websites that your ad can appear on. It also promotes ads across other platforms like apps and mobile-based programs.

    They use contextual and remarketing advertising to target your audience. Their guidelines can be somewhat strict to adhere to, but this is one of the largest audiences you will be able to reach, all with the backing of Google. AdWords also offers deep analysis of your campaign’s performance.

    Facebook Audience Network

    With over 1 billion users worldwide, Facebook offers a huge audience for digital marketing. Their ads not only appear on Facebook, but other high traffic apps and sites. If you are already using Facebook advertising for your business page, transitioning to using the audience network is fairly simple, their advertising guidelines are the same.

    Media.net

    This allows you to display ads on the Yahoo! Bing Network, which may not be as large as it once was (or as Google’s), but they claim that they reach 46 million unique searchers who aren’t using Google.

    Measure your results

    However you chose to display advertise, you need to track your ad performance. What is your marketing goal, and is your digital campaign getting you there?

    Hubspot recommends tracking the following KPIs:

    New site visitors: How many new visits after launching the campaign
    Engagement: Time spent on your site, page views, bounce rate
    Number of conversions

    If you are individually managing your display advertising, you can request this info from your publishing website, or track where traffic is coming from on your landing pages.

    If you are using a service like Google Display Network you can download analytic reports and use their tools to monitor conversion tracking.

    Is it worth it?

    Display advertising can help you reach a targeted customer base, drive engagement, and get users to your site. Navigating this type of digital marketing can be complicated. The click-through rate on display ads hovers around 0.07% worldwide, which often scares marketers away.

    Yet in spite of this, display advertising is continuing to grow. A recent IAB study found that display ads grew 13.1% in 2017 (compared to search ads at just 12.8%). If you have a measurable goal for your campaign, create compelling ads, and you keep track of results you can see a high ROI in a short amount of time.

    If you found this guide useful, don’t miss our other beginner’s guides to search marketing and advertising:

    Google AdWords: The Beginner’s Guide
    PPC 101: Eight tips to get started with paid search
    How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide
    A search marketer’s guide to using paid social media

    Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for No Risk SEO, an all-in-one reporting platform for agencies. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn, or check out her content services at amandadisilvestro.com.