The social media marketing checklist your business needs in 2017

As social media marketing becomes more challenging and time-consuming, it’s time to get more organised when managing your brand’s social presence.

It’s not easy handling a brand’s social presence, but its successful management can lead to great results. Social networks keep growing and they are heading into a more mature phase, which means that the challenges grow for every brand that tries to stay competent.

There are many reasons for a brand to invest in social media marketing and the results depend on the set goals:

Increase awareness
Reach a new audience
Boost engagement
Increase traffic to the site
Explore new business opportunities
Gain new leads
Work with new clients

No matter what goals you set for the new year, you still need to stay on top of your brand’s social media marketing and the right checklist may help you with all the tasks you need to do at the beginning of the year.

Brainstorming

This is the initial stage that you’ll think of all the new ways that can boost your social media marketing.

Explore the latest trends and see if any of them fits in your own strategy
Learn more about the new platforms or examine whether the old ones are still suitable for your audience
Be creative and think outside the box
Come up with new content ideas and experiment with them on each platform
Ask for help from other team members to broaden your perspective
Planning

Right after your brainstorming session, it’s time to evaluate your planning to see whether it’s effective enough to help your social media marketing.

Go back to your content calendar and see whether it was effective enough to use it frequently
What needs to be improved to the existing content calendar?
Decide on the channels you’re using. Should you add new ones?
Examine whether the frequency of the content has been effective up to now
Organise your goals and your KPIs
Do you know how to justify your social marketing efforts?
Implementation

Now you’re ready to check the practical aspect of your social media marketing. The evaluation of the implementation phase helps you understand whether your plan has been successfully in action.

Are you happy with the way the posts are published?
Is the content calendar followed?
Is the engagement the one you expected?
Are you replying to the users’ comments?
Are you monitoring your brand’s social accounts?
Do you use all your social accounts consistently?
How is the collaboration between the team?
Is there a plan to deal with urgent situations?
When was the last time you dealt with a crisis and how can you avoid another one?
Do you need to use social media for customer service?
Measurement

The last but still important stage in the evaluation of a social media marketing plan is to examine whether the measurement is effective.

Start by going back to your initial goals. Are these met? Are they realistic?
Keep your social reports up-to-date and prepare them for the year ahead
Check each platform’s native analytics to stay updated on their insights
Use your own analytics platform to have an overview of your social media marketing performance
Find the best performing platforms and raise the expectations in the new year
Find the platforms you need to focus on and come up with new content ideas to improve their performance
Plan the year ahead with new KPIs
Consult with the team on the best ways to track the KPIs
Align social media marketing KPIs with your wider marketing strategy

Although the checklist and the questions you need to answer seem to be time-consuming, the actual process is faster than what you think. This can even be an annual task, helping you create a successful social media marketing strategy, with a clear plan, goal and measurement. You can still add it to your new year’s resolutions.

Five common mistakes small businesses make with their online presence

google amp project

Please note, this is content written in association with Single Platform.

All small businesses need to know how to create a consistent online presence. 54% of small businesses currently have a website, but this isn’t nearly enough if you want to create an effective web presence in order to approach potential customers.

Often small business owners can feel overwhelmed when trying to explore the most suitable online opportunities. So to help out, here are some of the most common mistakes they can avoid in 2017.

1) Ignoring local SEO

97% of Internet users search for local businesses online, which means that a business cannot afford to ignore local SEO and its potential benefits.

Local SEO helps you attract customers who perform searches for a particular location, such as “sushi in NYC”. By optimising your site for local queries, you are helping customers discover your business and your services. Therefore reaching a new audience that’s interested in the most appropriate search results for the particular area.

The best ways to boost your local SEO are:

  • Verify your Google My Business listing: Google My Business connects your business with customers. Once you verify your page you can update your NAP (name, address, phone), add the right categories for your business and a relevant description. This helps customers find more information about your business, increasing the chances of attracting more visits.
  • Embed a Google Map in your website: A Google Map that links to the Google Plus local listing allows your business to offer all the required information to its customers.
  • Optimize meta tags and page content for local keywords: It can be beneficial for a business to add the city and the state in the title tag and the meta description to increase the clicks derived from local search results.
  • Use consistent contact information across your online profiles: It is important for every business to maintain a consistency on its contact information on every online source, from its site, to its social networks, or Google My Business and Yelp.

2) Not having an accessible site for the modern connected user

As modern connected users become more demanding, businesses should ensure that they pay special attention to mobile optimisation, site speed, and overall usability.

According to a survey from Google, 72% of mobile users consider it important for a website to be mobile-friendly. In fact, a mobile-friendly website increases the chances of conversion and similar results occur when focusing on optimal site speed.

Even a 1 second delay in a website’s loading time can lead to a lost conversion of 7%, while 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. This makes it imperative for a business to measure the performance of its website to examine the best ways to reduce its loading time.

Google has also recently introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in an attempt to increase the number of fast mobile web pages and help users enjoy their mobile experience without the frustration of slow loading pages.

Wired saw a 25% increase in click through rates from search results after implementing AMP, while Gizmodo noticed that 80% of its traffic from AMP pages was new.

As modern users become impatient in a fast-paced world, an accessible website should be a priority for a small business, improving the customer experience and beating the competition on important issues that are frequently ignored, although they still affect conversion.

3) Not taking advantage of customer reviews

Online reviews have become an important part of consumers’ purchasing decisions, with 88% of them trusting reviews as much as personal recommendations. The more reviews a business has, the higher the chances of earning trust among new customers.

Small businesses should encourage reviews as they serve as the best social proof when they are highlighted in a website. It’s important to find the best time to ask for them, while it may also be useful to incentivise consumers for each review with the right rewards.

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Even the negative reviews can be helpful and every business should embrace them, building a trusting relationship with the prospective customers, while working towards improving its performance.

As online reviews still count as fresh content for a website, they can also contribute to an improved SEO, with review signals accounting for 9.8% of the total ranking factors that define a page’s position on search results.

4) Not joining up their data between online, offline and mobile

There is a growing challenge for small businesses expanding their online presence to come up with the best way to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

It’s not just about examining the ROI for online marketing, now it’s more important to explore the best method to combine the data between online, offline and mobile marketing. This allows businesses to get a better understanding of how they should allocate their budget, finding what works and what can be improved.

The inability to combine these data sets leads to incomplete conclusions, which may turn into missed opportunities for increasing sales.

5) Not communicating with their customers

It’s vitally important for a business to understand its audience, as this will guide it towards future commercial goals.

A business with a good online presence pays attention to its customers and listens to their needs to become genuinely helpful. There’s more chance of increasing sales when businesses seek authentic relationships with existing and prospect clients.

Concept of digital marketing

The goal of building an online presence is to get closer to where the customers are and build meaningful, tangible engagement. Two-way communication between the business and the customer, all the way from initial user experience to any method of contact, should be measured and analyzed to prove the value and effectiveness of all touchpoints.

This will help businesses optimize every key point of engagement, helping to improve and iterate, to get maximum value from each.

These mistakes may be common, but they can all be fixed with a series of small steps in the right direction. And if a small businesses is feeling too daunted by these steps, there are companies devoted in helping them strengthen their SEO, such as Single Platform, a leading specialist in making it easy for local businesses to stand out online.

Five most interesting search marketing news stories of the week

A bunch of colourful road signs bearing custom top-level domains such as .music, .nyc and .club.

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

This week, Amazon is wooing Prime subscribers with a new, exclusive credit card, brand interest in Snapchat may not be as high as it seems, and the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is on the up-and-up, reaching a record of 14 million anonymous searches in one day.

Amazon unveils new credit card exclusive to Prime members

Since the launch of Amazon Prime as an express shipping service in 2005, Amazon has continued to add benefits to its exclusive subscription service in a bit to retain existing subscribers and lure new ones.

The latest of these is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, a new credit card exclusive to Amazon Prime members, which offers a hefty 5% cashback on all Amazon purchases, as well as a 1-2% cashback on other types of purchase, and a $70 gift card to new cardholders once they’re approved.

Al Roberts covered the news for ClickZ this week, looking at how Amazon is aiming to outdo major retail rival Costco with the new card, in its bid to become the go-to retailer in the U.S. and elsewhere.

More brands sign up for Snapchat, but not all are active

Snapchat is currently preparing to make an Initial Public Offering that could be the largest in the social media space since Facebook’s in 2012.

But although Snapchat has made a number of moves to tempt businesses into marketing on its platform, such as adding ecommerce features, redesigning its Discover platform to appeal to publishers, and adding Facebook-like audience targeting, a new report by research firm L2 has revealed that many businesses still don’t know what to do with Snapchat.

According to L2, many of the brands that are signed up to Snapchat have “struggled to produce content for the platform”, and the amount of active brands on Snapchat dropped from 70% to 67% between January and October. Al Roberts reported on the news for ClickZ this week and assessed whether Snapchat will be able to build up the momentum to challenge Facebook’s social media dominance.

Why the world’s major brands are making the switch to their own web extension

To date, more than 550 of the world’s largest brands have applied for their own Top-Level Domains, or TLDs – the part of a URL that appears after the dot (e.g. .com or .net).

Given the sizeable application fee of almost $200,000 USD, it stands to reason that most of the brands using these TLDs are big hitters like Apple, Google, Walmart and Nike, using them to create more simplified and memorable navigation that harks back to the days of Windows 2000. Tereza Litsa looked at how the new extensions work, and what the benefits are for both marketers and consumers.

Image by felixart05, available via CC BY-ND 3.0

eBay to launch authentication service for high-end merchandise

eBay is one of the web’s foremost ecommerce pioneers, facilitating the purchase of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods every year. But one of its biggest sources of friction relates to the sale of counterfeit goods, particularly high-end and luxury goods such as jewellery, fashion and handbags.

For years, eBay has offered a Verified Rights Owner programme which lets brands report suspected fakes, but late last week it announced that it will be launching a new programme, eBay Authenticate, which is specifically targeted at sellers of luxury items. Due to roll out later this year, eBay Authenticate will allow high-end sellers to have professional authenticators evaluate their items for an as-yet unspecified fee. It also promises, subject to certain terms and conditions, to refund buyers twice the cost of the original item if merchandise they purchase is found to be counterfeit during the eBay Authenticate process.

DuckDuckGo hits 14 million searches in one day

The privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo yesterday announced two major milestones to its blog: at the end of last year, it surpassed a cumulative total of 10 billion searches served, with more than 4 billion of those carried out in 2016 alone. And earlier this month, DuckDuckGo reached an all-time high of 14 million searches in just one day.

A novelty rubber duck wearing scuba diving gear.

DuckDuckGo hailed this news as a success for the spread of privacy online, pointing out a Pew Research Study which reported that 40% of users believe their search engine shouldn’t retain information about their search activity. It’s definitely a huge achievement for a small, independent search engine like DuckDuckGo, which doesn’t retain any information about its users or sell it on to advertisers, and whose features are largely community-created and crowdsourced.

Its presence mostly spreads by word of mouth, and yet DuckDuckGo’s traffic is growing faster than ever, which could indicate that more and more people are starting to take an interest in privacy and anonymity online.

Seven ways to elevate your personal and professional SEO performance in 2017

Business Woman Working Planning Ideas Concept

According to research from Borrell associates, SEO spending is forecast to reach $79.27 billion by 2020. However, the problem that many marketers face is actually elevating the importance of SEO within their organizations.

In 2017 it is essential that SEO professionals secure the buy-in they need from their business leaders so they can accomplish their professional goals.

Understanding how to do this will not only help the brand succeed, but it will also build your reputation as a marketer, paving the way for a successful future within the industry.

This year we witness the rising importance of the micro-moment, the new mobile index, and the growing importance of machine learning and automation in the marketing process.

Understanding this potential and the direction of the industry can help you establish yourself and your business within this changing field, laying a firm foundation for a strong brand moving forward. Here are seven ways you can elevate your SEO performance on both a personal and professional level.

Seven ways to elevate SEO performance

1) Communicate the importance of SEO within your organization

To elevate your personal and professional SEO performance, you must begin by establishing the importance of optimization to others in your organization.

My company, BrightEdge, regularly monitors the impact of organic search on website success and has found that 51% of traffic to your page originates with organic. Additionally, 83 percent of the traffic from search engines is from organic instead of paid.

Brands that want to drive performance need to focus resources and budget on SEO, and as a marketer, you need to promote this channel.

Invest your time and resources in improving performance in this segment so that you can begin to demonstrate both your own competence and the importance of digital marketing to your brand as a whole.

2) Optimize your human capital

The marketing world continues to mature and professionals need to be prepared to evolve alongside it. Within digital marketing, we continue to see a convergence of different marketing disciplines as the former silos begin to come down.

For example, content writers work more closely with SEOs and paid search and organic teams better understand the value that the other has to offer.

You want to maximize your human capital to take advantage of these trends. Look for new hires that have multiple skill sets and understand a few different marketing disciplines.

Similarly, find ways to train your existing team members on other marketing strategies, such as in-house training sessions. The better the team can function as a whole and create unified campaigns, the greater the success will be, which will help boost your value and reputation.

3) Nurture your own skills

Given the speed with which marketing continues to change, marketers must also be attentive to their individual skills. For you to advance professionally, you will need to navigate the hybrid atmosphere of modern digital marketing.

This means taking advantage of the variety of online resources available to help you learn about different aspects of marketing, such as analytics, SEO, writing, or social media. Attend a few webinars, follow key blogs, or even take classes to improve your credentials.

Taking the time to prepare yourself for modern marketing will help you stand out within your company, improve the success of campaigns, and position you for an even brighter future.

4) Find ways to break down internal silos

Breaking down the silos that hinder your organization’s performance requires not only hiring people with cross-specialty skills and expanding your own abilities, but also actively working to break down barriers between groups at your organization.

Do not be afraid to lead the initiative to start working with people from other teams. Get to know those who work in other departments through lunches or regular meetings, work on coordinated projects together, and develop integrated campaigns.

This cooperative effort will allow your organization to create more advanced campaigns and thus strengthen the brand’s efforts.

5) Invest the time, resources, and energy in analytics to gain a full view of your work

To effectively market to your prospects, you need to have a clear view of your performance and progress at every stage. You want to have a complete view of your metrics, understanding how your content and campaigns perform at every level, from keyword ranking to the impact on revenue and share of voice.

Look at how different aspects of your campaigns perform, such as paid search, organic and SEO, and social media efforts. The more complete your understanding of the marketing landscape, the clearer the picture will become of how you should move forward.

6) Use data to build a strategy centered around the customer’s needs

In the modern marketing world, we need to focus on the importance of the customer-centric approach and the growing roles that machine learning and automation are likely to play as the digital industry continues to mature. As a marketer, you need to produce strategies and campaigns that understand the unique needs and interests of your target consumers so that you can then produce the material needed to engage prospects.

The emerging technologies will play a large role in helping you better understand the search landscape so that you can more effectively reach them through your campaigns.

As you bring in the data from your analytics monitoring, use it to start creating a customer-first strategy. Watch the types of devices that people use when accessing your content, how that impacts their behavior, the paths they take to reach the conversion stage, and how various marketing efforts impact outcomes.

This will help you be more effective and create and optimize content that people actually want to read and is set for success, instead of just content that you want to produce. This will make your efforts more effective, providing lift to the organization and elevating the importance of SEO.

7) Understand how to speak to the C-Suite

For you to elevate SEO importance and performance on a personal and professional level, it is vitally important to know how to speak to the C-Suite and other leaders at your organization. They prioritize the specific metrics that will clearly indicate the impact of your marketing efforts on the organization as a whole.

They are less interested in seeing keyword rankings as they are in seeing share of voice, revenue from organic campaigns, and your success within the competitive landscape. Use reports and visuals that easily and clearly communicate your progress and the direct benefit to the company.

On a personal level, work on cultivating valuable meeting room traits, including confident speaking skills and effective storytelling abilities.

This will allow you to engage with the leaders of your organization and help them understand the value of what you have to offer.

The marketing industry continues to mature as consumers, marketers, and the technology involved become more sophisticated. From a personal and professional level, this offers you the chance to elevate SEO and the importance of your own role.

As we venture into 2017, now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the ideas above to set yourself and your organization up for a great year.

Building your SEO strategy in 2017: what’s most important?

Linkbuilding

If you’re wondering what factors to consider as you build your SEO strategy for 2017, links are still the top-ranking factor for Google’s algorithm with content close behind. And high CTR is still at the core of the rankings pack as well.

Earlier this year, Andrey Lipattsev, a Google Search Quality Senior Strategist, fielded questions about the top ranking factors for Google. Lipattsev said, “I can tell you what they are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site.”

Recent Study Put Links to the Ranking Factor Test

A recent study by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting put links to the ranking factor test. And links emerged as powerful as ever.

Previous research by Moz and Searchmetrics found a high correlation when comparing high SEO rankings and external links. However, data from other ranking factors were close behind links.

For example, the Moz study found the number of external links to be rated at 0.30, but the Moz authority rated at 0.28, and the page authority at 0.37.

How could links be so vital to SEO efforts and not have a significant statistical edge on other ranking factors? Enge wanted to know why, and he found that the Moz and Searchmetrics studies used commercial search terms, and evaluated each SERP individually.

“Based on consultations with a couple of experts (Paul Berger and Per Enge), I did a different type of calculation, based on the Quadratic Mean,” Enge explained.

Different varieties of search terms were also employed in the Stone Temple Consulting study. Long tail commercial terms, commercial terms, and informational keywords were used to test the power of links.

The results of the new study certainly matched Google’s announcement, crowning links king of ranking. Links per ranking URL rated at 0.39 with domain and page rating far behind at 0.27.

Links are Still Powerful Amid Hundreds of Google Ranking Factors

Did you know Google uses around 200 ranking factors to rank websites? This may be a lot for SEOs to take in all at once. However, focusing on links is still best practice.

Several digital marketing firms compiled hundreds of Google ranking factors, and they may be useful to your SEO efforts, says Entrepreneur contributor Eric Siu.

“While it can be worthwhile for business owners to be at least familiar with some of the topics here, this infographic can be a valuable resource to share with those on your team who are managing your site’s day-to-day SEO operation.”

In fact, out of those 200 ranking factors in Google’s ranking algorithm, three of the most essential encompass links.

  • The number of external links you receive is important. Some of the top SEOs say external links are simply invaluable to your ranking power, according to Moz.
  • Anchor text of external links affects ranking. Links with SEO focused anchor text needs to be relevant to the target page.
  • The links need to be of good authority. For example, your links need to be from a reputable news source or academic journal.
  • Links have always been a valuable aspect of an SEOs strategy, and many SEO agencies focus on building relevant links to get first page search results on Google.

    Building Relevant Links is an Important Ranking Practice

    Building links is certainly an essential SEO practice, but Google is still dealing with the manipulation of SERPs via economically minded marketers. However, your link building strategy needs to encompass relevancy, according to Search Engine Land.

    Incorporating relevance and trustworthiness into your link building strategy is an essential part of your ranking efforts. The first step in this strategy is to identify resources and publications for inbound links.

    Here are two key aspects to incorporate into your link building strategy, according to the best SEO practices of 2016 by Forbes.

    • Identify respectable links. When searching for respectable links ask yourself: Do people trust this site? Does this site use citations? Is the site refined? Is the site a household name?
    • Focus on relevancy in links. In order to optimize rankings, SEOs need to find relevant links within the industry they are marketing. Match content and links up as perfectly as possible to keep rankings moving in a positive direction.

    Link building is important, and it may be as essential as ever, according to Google’s announcement. And SEOs still need to combine links with powerful content too.

    Google Identifies CTR and User Experience as Major Ranking Factors

    Links and content are certainly at the top of your SEO strategy. However, Google identified CTR and user experience as major ranking factors. Increasing one will certainly increase the other as well.

    Google utilizes CTR data to indicate a sites ranking value, according to Google engineer Paul Haahr. Haahr also added that Google runs A/B tests with SERPs. This could increase or decrease a site’s ranking by a few spots, and has no relevancy to links or SEO.

    Essentially, the higher CTR you have, and the more user experience your site receives, the higher the Google rankings.

    A study on CTR by Moz found that, “The more your pages beat the expected organic CTR for a given position, the more likely you are to appear in prominent organic positions.”

    Rankings and CTR are certainly codependent. Keeping visitors on your site is one important element in the Google ranking equation. Here are a few tips to optimize your CTR and user experience.

    • Bucket brigades. Using bucket brigades is one great SEO strategy to increase user experience, according to Backlinko. These are simply words and phrases that keep people engaged.
    • Better content title and descriptions. Emphasizing fast results is what Google is all about, and your content title and description need to reflect that. Giving Google browsers the sense of speedy information will increase your CTR.
    • More value in your subheadings. Including benefits in your subheadings will also enhance your CTR and user experience. A more powerful subheading will intrigue your audience to stick around and see what the content has to offer.

    Your 2017 Strategy: What Else?

    Knowing that you must continue with outreach, content, and CTR optimization as your foundation, what else should you consider for your 2017 strategy? A Forbes article describes three steps to jumpstart site traffic in 2017: Real Time Videos, Augmented Reality Gaming, and Google Penguin.

    If you keep your site safe from Penguin while focusing on building a real time video strategy with an augmented reality component, watch your site’s visibility sky rocket! It’s time to combine the old with the new to have your best year ever!

    Five proven SEO strategies for retailers to use in 2017

    Optimizing your ecommerce site for better rankings should be a top priority for any growth-focused business owner.

    Being on the first page is no longer enough to generate enough traffic, CTR, and sales, for 2016 and 2017, the main goal should be to rank 1 and I will tell you why.

    In 2011, a research conducted by Optify and published by Search Engine Watch showed that “websites ranked number one received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent; number two had a CTR of 12.5 percent; and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent.”

    This report illustrates vividly the value of holding the number 1 spot in search results.

    In the article below, I will be sharing five proven SEO strategies for retailers to rank their ecommerce sites in 2017.

    1) Use LSIs

    Among the best practices for SEO in 2016 and 2017 is the use of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. LSI’s keywords are phrases or words closely related to the main keyword or phrase of your page or content.

    Adding these keywords to your web pages will improve your SEO for a variety of search terms. Bear in mind, visitors will always use different or a combination of terms in search engines but optimizing your web page with LSI’s allows you to rank easily for closely related keywords.

    For example, when optimizing a coupon website for keywords, LSI’s such as promotion codes, discount codes, discounts and deals can be sprinkled over the content in your coupon offers or category description.

    Finally, there won’t be a need for LSI’s on a squeeze page with no content but for product description and large e-commerce stores like Amazon, LSI’s will surely get on the good side of search engines.

    2) Write Long Descriptions For Products and Pages (1000+) and Sprinkle Keyword 3 – 5x

    According to SERP data from SEMRush, longer content tends to rank best in Google. This is because search engines (Google) wants visitors to understand the value on your page, more content on your web pages allows search engines to crawl and provide value to web users.

    I understand it is impossible to write up to or more than 1000 words for every page on your e-commerce site (don’t sweat it) simply write in-depth 100 words for products or category pages.

    After writing your in-depth descriptions, include your main keyword at least 3 times in your descriptions. Doing this, give signals to search engines as to what the page is about.

    For example, if your web page is about “Winter Skips” then you need to include that exact phrase at least 3 times in the fully written description.

    Avoid poorly written or duplicate product descriptions (many retailers are guilty of this crime), hyperlink properly to internal pages or related items.

    3) Use Neuromarketing Hacks To Maximize Page CTR

    There is no point stressing out the need to include your main keyword in your page’s title tag. But do you know adding a prefix before your main keyword can actually skyrocket your CTR from search results?

    Prefixes or Click Magnets such as “Cheap”, “Buy” and “30% Off” can increase your CTR and help you show up for long tail search queries. It is advisable to use prefixes for every product page as visitors punch in more precise queries such as “cheap winter skips” or “Nordstrom deals”.

    Bear in mind, Google presumably uses organic CTR as a ranking signal according to Paul Haahr, well if they don’t, more click-throughs = more sales so you don’t lose in any way.

    For example, almost every page with title tags on ChameleonJohn contains click magnets such as “30% off”, “Free Shipping” or “Up to 60% off” which generate more clicks (since we all like discounts).

    For optimal results, include creative (and appropriate) click magnets into your title tags and descriptions tags and put longer phrases in description tags since you have more room for words to gain more clicks and sales.

    4) Use Date Modifiers For Coupons

    For businesses in the coupon industry, best practice will be to include date modifiers (2016, 2017) on each coupon page to show visitors that the coupons are fresh. For example, Kohl’s coupon page shows the last updated date including an expiry date for each coupon offer.

    This allows search engines to crawl in-depth, provide comprehensive search results and rich snippets for visitors.

    5) Implement Product Review Schema by Displaying Rich Snippets in Google

    Rich snippets were first launched in 2009, they offer a way of adding more information to a search listing which could be in form of a star rating of a review or price of an item.

    Webmasters can markup web pages with Schema.org making ecommerce sites eligible for displaying rich snippets in search results. Using structured data markup allows search engines to crawl and display page content comprehensively even though Google does not guarantee rich snippets for every website.

    For clarification purposes, rich snippets do not affect site rankings but the use allows for comprehensive search listings for visitors, an increased CTR and indirect SEO benefits such as easily indexable web pages and detailed metadata.

    Laurynas Skupas is the co-founder and CEO of ChameleonJohn

    Top three programmatic trends in 2017

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    Programmatic is a game-changing technology in the advertising industry.

    According to ZenithOptimedia Programmatic Marketing Forecasts, it will grow by an astounding 31% in 2017 – and that’s faster than social media (25%) and online video (20%).

    At the same time, marketers using automation is on the rise: Dun & Bradstreet Report predicts almost 70% of B2B marketers plan to increase spending on programmatic advertising in 2017.

    So what can we expect from the year ahead and how should advertisers be prepared to take advantage of programmatic? RTB House – a global provider of retargeting technology powered by deep learning algorithms – has put together 3 top trends in the upcoming year.

    #1 Cross-device campaigns will get in power

    According to Global Mobile Consumer Trends Research, we check our phones around 40 times per day. With more than 78% of the global consumers owning smartphones (76% in developed countries and 81% in emerging markets), mobile programmatic ads are on the upswing.

    Rising device penetration and increased mobile usage is a huge advertising opportunity which marketers simply can’t ignore. 2017 will be the year of mobile programmatic not only in the US, where eMarketer predicts that mobile will represent nearly 75% of all programmatic ad spending, but also in other markets across the globe.

    Programmatic video is also on the rise. It will amount to about 60% of all digital video ad spending in the US according to eMarketer, and accounts for almost a quarter of video ad spend in Europe.

    The UK will remain the market leader in programmatic digital display ad spending, expected to account for more than three quarters of all buys in 2017, so by 2018 programmatic direct will account for 52 per cent of the programmatic total and £2.03bn.

    By 2020 desktop spend is projected to be £3.17bn, compared with mobile’s £8.99bn.

    The programmatic mobile and video market has been shaky in the past, but device saturation and market maturity seems to put publishers and advertisers in a comfortable place with buying and selling mobile and video ad inventory.

    In 2017, brands will be even more eager to run activities that reach consumers on every one of those screens and planning a cross-device campaign will be a common and effective strategy.

    #2 Header bidding will revolutionize buy/sell auctions

    Header bidding (or pre-bidding) helps publishers better decide which partners they choose work with.

    Unlike waterfall auctions, which have long been the standard of buying and selling ads, header bidding means all bids are made at once.

    This allows for a more democratic access path to the publishers ad inventory, which creates a win-win for both publishers and advertisers. The price usually goes up, awarding publishers more money. At the same time, it gives advertisers a more even shot at the inventory they most want.

    In traditional waterfall methods, publishers are not able to choose their partners – they are placed into tiers based on how much money they have spent historically. The more they’ve spent, the higher tier they occupy.

    When an impression goes up for auction, it is first offered to the highest tier; if that tier doesn’t bite, the same impression is pushed down to the next tier.

    This repeats until someone makes a bid. But this process doesn’t always get the publisher the true value for their impression. Nor does it give advertisers equal footing to bid on the impression they want. And here is where header bidding concept steps into the game.

    In 2017, header bidding will be more accessible than ever, thanks to rapid developments in the technology that allows them. Buyers will be highly incentivized by the lower costs of impressions technology fees, while publishers enjoy higher profit margins from their inventory.

    #3 Deep learning will boost retargeting quality to new heights

    According to Juniper Research, machine learning algorithms which are employed in programmatic advertising to enable more efficient bids in RTB networks are expected to generate around $42 billion in annual advertising revenue by 2021, up from around $3.5 billion this year.

    Deep learning (a branch of machine learning based on algorithms that attempt to model high-level abstractions in data) has made significant strides in 2016 and will be on the radar of many forward-thinking advertisers in 2017. It’s now being used in many industries beyond software.

    These algorithms are the backbone of image or speech recognition, and in 2017 their application will have a great influence on programmatic advertising campaigns.

    Thanks to deep learning methods which are employed by innovative retargeting technology providers, advertisers will be able to predict user behaviour, calculate the probability of purchasing, and measure value more accurately.

    Programmatic buying and selling powered by deep learning will yield a higher value of conversions and enable advertisers to run advertising campaigns that are extremely effective without larger budgeting.

    Daniel Surmacz is the COO of RTB House and a contributor at SEW

    Five most interesting search marketing news stories of the week

    amazon ads

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

    This week, Larry Kim peers into his crystal ball to make some outlandish predictions for SEO in 2017; Facebook is preparing to flip the switch on a mid-roll video ad offering that will share revenue with users; and – here’s a name you probably weren’t expecting to see crop up in the news – AOL is offering up free wireless data as a reward for engaging with ads.

    Nine crazy predictions for SEO in 2017

    It’s January, and as we all know, the arrival of January and the new year heralds the arrival of any number of predictions posts across every website you visit. (I myself am guilty of publishing one this week). But with his ‘Nine crazy predictions for SEO in 2017‘, Larry Kim promises a predictions post like no other.

    From the biggest rankings shift in the history of Google, to the death of organic listings 6-10, and the complete demise of local SEO (yikes!), Kim has definitely gone bold and big with his predictions, all while citing evidence to back each one up. The predictions might seem “crazy”, but the reasoning isn’t, making this an article you mustn’t miss.

    And if anyone would like to set up a Search Engine Watch betting pool where we all place bets on which of the predictions will come true and when, I’m all in.

    Facebook to get mid-roll ads and share revenue with users

    On top of being the world’s most popular social network, Facebook has also become one of the most popular destinations for consuming online video content. Yet although Facebook has never been slow to monetise other parts of its service, it has sought very little revenue from its videos – until now.

    Al Roberts reports for ClickZ this week on the news that Facebook is poised to implement a mid-roll ad offering which will share 55% of the revenue generated with creators. In his piece, Roberts looks into the reasons why this could be a game-changer for Facebook’s advertising business. Last year, recode reported that Facebook is nearing the maximum amount of ads that it can show in a user’s News Feed. It’s clear that we are seeing the beginnings of Facebook’s newly diversified advertising strategy in response to that, following on from its monetisation of Facebook Messenger with sponsored messages in 2016.

    Consumers continue to turn to Amazon first for product search

    Every year, Google handles more than a trillion search queries, making it the world’s most popular search engine – something that will not exactly come as news to anyone who follows this website. But despite the existence of Google Shopping, when it comes to searches for products, Google is not the internet user’s first choice. According to analysts at financial services platform Raymond James, that honour belongs to Amazon.

    It isn’t the first time we’ve heard this news, or something like it; in September 2016, Graham Charlton reported for ClickZ that 55% of all product searches begin on Amazon, and a survey of more than 1,000 US consumers by PowerReviews in June also found that Amazon came first in product search. However, the figures from Raymond James re-confirm the fact that marketers shouldn’t be ignoring Amazon in their paid search campaigns. Could it be that some of their PPC efforts should be redirected towards Amazon?

    Image from Amazon Marketing Services

    Why you should be questioning every part of your organic search strategy in 2017

    When was the last time you really tore apart your search strategy and examined why it is the way it is? In 2017, Kevin Gamache is challenging Search Engine Watch readers to “make 2017 the year you question everything”.

    In his article for SEW this week, Kevin lays out five fundamental questions to start asking about your search strategy, which cover everything from defining your approach to organic search to asking yourself who your customers are and how you want to target them. If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to take a fresh look at your SEO strategy, put this piece on your reading list.

    AOL tries to lure leads with free wireless data

    “AOL”. Just saying the name can give many of us flashbacks to the days of stuttering dial-up tones and a soothing female voice intoning “You have e-mail.” But in 2017, news about AOL is much more rare. Verizon purchased AOL for $4.4 billion back in 2015, and now, Al Roberts reports that the company is leveraging its wireless network as part of a new ad offering called BrandBuilder by AOL.

    So what is this new “ad creative framework”, and what do Verizon/AOL hope to achieve with it? Al Roberts looks into the details of the scheme over on ClickZ, and considers whether AOL’s offering of free wireless data as an incentive will be enough to generate true engagement.

    Nine crazy predictions for SEO in 2017

    simplified-google-rankbrain-diagram

    It’s January, which means you’ve probably read about 200 expert predictions on the future of SEO in 2017 by now. But if you stick with me, I promise this post won’t be like any of the other SEO predictions posts you’ve seen so far.

    When it comes to making SEO predictions, a lot of experts take the safe route. We all know mobile SEO is going to be increasingly important. Talking about the obvious is always safe.

    If you’re anything like me, the SEO predictions for 2017 have let you feeling underwhelmed. No one has been sticking their neck out this year.

    Mobile will be big?

    UX will matter?

    Really?! You don’t say!

    I think it’s time for a few more bold predictions – nine of them in fact. These SEO predictions will be a bit more out there – maybe you could even call them a little crazy.

    Just don’t blame me if/when these predictions become reality. I’m just the prognosticator, basing my predictions on the things I’ve seen lately – and where I believe Google is heading next.

    1. We’ll Experience the Biggest Rankings Shift in the History of Google…

    Major algorithmic changes are always a big deal – from old school classics like Florida and Caffeine to more modern algorithmic updates like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, and RankBrain.

    So here’s my first SEO prediction for 2017: We’ll see the biggest shift in rankings in the history of Google.

    Machine learning and AI was an undeniable force in 2016. And I expect machine learning signals to become a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. In case you’re unfamiliar with RankBrain, here’s a simplified diagram that breaks it down:

    RankBrain helps Google select and prioritize the signals it uses for ranking. Engagement is one of the very important signals Google looks at for ranking.

    It’s been my theory that RankBrain (and/or other machine-learning elements within Google’s core algorithm) are increasingly rewarding pages that have high user engagement. In other words: Google has built its own ultimate unicorn detector to ensure that the pages people are clicking on and engaging with the most are rewarded with better search positions.

    2. …But Nobody Will Notice Anything!

    Remember how, for a few months before RankBrain was officially announced in that Bloomberg article, everyone in the SEO industry knew a big algorithm update was brewing? Remember all the discussion on Twitter, Facebook, and the top search industry publications?

    Yeah, me neither because it absolutely didn’t happen!

    So here’s my second SEO prediction for 2017: Even though we’re about to see the biggest shift in the history of Google rankings, nobody will notice anything.

    RankBrain is more subtle than updates like Panda and Penguin, where up to 90 percent of your organic traffic disappeared instantly overnight. It was easy to see such a ridiculously huge traffic drop, that occurred on a specific date, in your analytics.

    But with RankBrain, the rankings shift is happening every day, bit by bit, rather than all at once in one big update. Google is shifting traffic away from your donkeys (pages with average or below average engagement) and toward your unicorns (pages that have 5-10x higher engagement metrics than normal).

    Whatever SEO rank-checking tools or weather reports you’re looking at aren’t set up to notice these small and gradual types of changes. They just get lost in the noise.

    3. Google Will Unite Featured Snippets & Organic Listings

    Why is Google’s featured snippet so often different from its top-ranked organic listing? Basically, Google is currently saying to its users: “Our first listing isn’t really the correct answer, so use this other answer instead.”

    Huh? Why isn’t the first listing simply “the answer” instead?

    My third SEO prediction for 2017: Google’s featured snippets and organic listing will converge.

    Here’s my theory. Snippets were just a sandbox/testing environment where they could try out user engagement signals in search and the rest of the rankings didn’t use them. Now that they’ve bought into this idea, they can consolidate the two concepts.

    4. Google Will Kill Organic Positions 6-10

    As a result of new user-engagement signals being used in search rankings, fewer and fewer people are clicking on results in lower positions, while clicks on the top positions are trending higher. Check out this surprising click curve WordStream put together:

    expected-ctr-by-organic-google-position-data

    (Note: This data was obtained from the Google Search Console, tracking the same set of keywords in the Internet marketing niche for three separate 30-day periods)

    This chart really illustrates the idea of a subtle change, as discussed in my second prediction.

    What’s it all mean? That it’s time for my next SEO prediction: Google will eliminate the bottom half of search results in 2017. (Bonus prediction: SEOs will freak out BIG TIME!)

    As a result of machine learning, I believe Google will decide that it no longer needs to show positions 6-10. The decluttered SERP will be populated with more ads (which will generate higher CTRs than the organic listings they replaced).

    Think it can’t happen? Let me remind you of that time waaaay back in early 2016 when Google killed right-side text ads on the desktop. But when you looked at the data, it made sense why Google did it: only 14.6 percent of desktop clicks came from the right ads.

    What happened after Google eliminated right-side ads? CTRs increased and traffic remained steady.

    I imagine the same will be true when Google eliminates the bottom half of search results. The actual impact for most websites should be minimal because most people aren’t clicking on those organic listings now anyway.

    5. We’ll Say Goodbye to Local SEO

    Google Shopping (a.k.a. Product Search) used to be great. Then Google changed the game and Google Shopping became a 100 percent pay-to-play system.

    The local SEO train has gone on for way too long. These are 100 percent commercial queries and Google’s next big land grab.

    There’s no easy way to cushion the blow for my fifth SEO prediction for 2017, so I’ll just say it: local SEO as we’ve known it will die.

    Google plans to make $5 billion from local search. So that means one thing: goodbye local organic packs.

    6. Black Hat SEOs Will Create Fake Engagement

    Google already has a pretty lengthy list of tactics that are against its Webmaster Guidelines. Well, expect that list to expand in (or after) 2017.

    One thing we’ve been talking a lot about so far in this post is the importance of engagement metrics and how this can impact your SEO success. This includes metrics from click-through rates, to dwell time, to task completion rates (a.k.a. conversion rates).

    Well, you know how it goes. Anytime somebody sees some success with an SEO tactic, then everyone starts doing it. But a select few who can’t make that tactic work legitimately will figure out a way to fake it.

    This is exactly how the whole link buying problem got started 10 years ago. People knew links increased rankings, so people went crazy buying links, not worrying about quality, only quantity.

    Which brings us to SEO prediction number six: CTR and engagement hacks will become the new black hat SEO.

    Look for huge spammer innovation once more SEOs finally start realizing that improving CTR and dwell time also can help improve rankings in today’s machine-learning world. The black hat revolution won’t be televised, but people in the know will know all about it.

    7. Google Will Declare War on Tool Providers

    Why does Google have a TOS (terms of service) and not enforce it?

    Companies like Raven Tools have been bullied to not include rank checking. But Google allows it on some tools but not others?

    So, my seventh SEO prediction is that Google will declare war on tool providers that violate their TOS.

    Why should Google care more about this now? Probably because rank checkers screw up CTR and bounce calculations.

    A few Google people have tweeted about this actually.

    If Google wanted to be really mean about it, they could devise a kind of penalty where if they found that you were doing excessive rank checking of your domain, they could infer you were violating the TOS.

    8. An SEO Company Will Die

    Following on the previous prediction, and other factors, here’s my next SEO prediction for 2017: one or more major SEO vendors or service companies will be sold off.

    Google sometimes “makes an example” of a small company they believe is behaving badly by publicly punishing them so badly that they close.

    9. SEO Will Be More Valuable Than Ever

    Though much of this post may seem like doom and gloom, one thing’s for sure: SEO won’t die. (Though it’s an extremely safe bet the entire practice of SEO will be declared dead and/or dying at least a few times this year!)

    Despite all of its challenges (and the many more on the horizon), SEO will be an even more valuable marketing channel to the lucky winners in 2017 and beyond.

    My final SEO prediction: Fewer and fewer winners will win bigger and bigger SEO jackpots.

    How to keep Q4 paying off in 2017

    Retailers love the influx of revenue in Q4, but there’s another, more last gift from the spike in digital traffic: data that you can use to your advantage in 2017.

    In this post, we’ll cover three major ways to make Q4 the gift that keeps on giving.

    1) Capture those audiences.

    This is the time to build remarketing lists (put this in place ASAP if you haven’t yet; it’s never too late). You can then target these users at a later date to remarket to them if they haven’t converted.

    Anyone adding to cart and abandoning, getting partway through the checkout process before bailing, just looking at product pages or even your home page…hit them with ads and promotions for post-holiday sales.

    When building your remarketing lists, build them wisely; smartly segment them based on their interaction with your website.

    The depth they go into your website gives you a better idea of the depth of their intent. Build the segments, bid accordingly, and tailor creative to speak more directly to the different audiences.

    2) Go prospecting

    Given that you have had a huge increase in customers from additional Q4 purchases, you’ve got more robust customer lists to use for prospecting for audiences similar to your customers. There are two ways I’d recommend to get started here:

    Facebook Lookalike targeting is a great way to upload your customer list and target users with characteristics, behaviors, and traits similar to your customers. If you want to be even smarter with your LAL targeting, segment out those customer lists into close-knit groups. For example, an ecommerce clothing retailer would want to segment out those who purchased men’s vs. women’s clothing, those with high AOV (average order value) vs. low AOV, etc. This will allow you to better tailor creative to your audiences.
    Google Customer Match offers similar functionality (albeit at a much lower scale). You can then use Customer Match with Google’s Similar Audience targeting to layer onto your search campaigns. By doing this, you can then bid more aggressively for users similar to the makeup of your customers searching for your product or service. This typically tends to generate higher conversion rates.
    3) Re-engage

    if you have multiple products to sell, natural upsells, or products that need to be regularly replaced or replenished, you can upload your new customer lists within Facebook’s custom audiences and target these users at a later time with new creative of different product, sales, promotions, etc.

    You can also leverage Google’s Customer Match with GSP (Gmail Sponsored Promotions) to bring ads to your customers’ Gmail inbox to remind them about your great product, service, or deals and get them back to your site to make additional purchases.

    Of course, these are techniques you should be using throughout the year, but there’s no time like now to take full advantage and keep the Q4 momentum going. Good luck!