How to maximize your AdSense earnings with Amazon CPM ads

amazon-cpm-ad

If you use AdSense on your blog or website, I’m sure you have looked into other AdSense alternatives to increase your revenue.

And in most cases, there are two other alternatives:

  • High quality CPM ad networks such as Conversant Media (formerly ValueClick), Exponential (formerly Tribal Fusion), Technorati, Adtegrity, Advertising.com and more
  • Other creative ad units such as in-text links, pop-unders, pop-overs, interstitials and more from networks such as RevenueHits, Intellilinks, Clicksor, Chitika and more.

However, in most cases, both the above options possibly didn’t work out for you.

Most likely your site was rejected by high-quality CPM ad networks because of their high traffic and unique visitor requirements.

And you probably rejected other types of ad units to maintain user experience on your site, or these creative ad units did not pay more than AdSense.

Here is a great option to increase your AdSense earnings without sacrificing user experience on your site: Amazon CPM Ads.

Here are some tips to implement Amazon CPM along with AdSense to maximize your revenue:

1) Create Amazon CPM Ads with target CPM higher than your AdSense CPM

Amazon CPM allows you define a target CPM and passback ad code while creating an ad unit.

Target CPM allows to specify a minimum CPM rate. Amazon will only display ads in they can meet your target CPM rate.

Passback ad code allows you to provide an alternative ad code such as your AdSense ad code. If Amazon cannot meet your target CPM rate, they will respond with the Passback ad code and an AdSense ad will be displayed instead.

These are great options as they allow you to start working with Amazon CPM ads without implementing new ad slots or sacrificing any revenue.

2) Add product affiliate links to increase CPM rates

Amazon affiliate links and Amazon CPM ads are not directly related but you can help increase your CPM rates with affiliate links. If you can think of relevant products that your visitors might be interested in, you should weave an Amazon affiliate link for that product in your content.

For example, if you write about health eating habits, you might want to include links to top three smoothie blenders on Amazon.com. By adding relevant affiliate links, you increase the probability of generating affiliate revenue in addition to the CPM ad revenue.

In addition, by driving traffic to relevant and specific Amazon product pages, you help Amazon better target their CPM ads to your site visitors.

This will help increase your fill rates, ad relevancy and better retargeting which in turn will lead to higher revenue.

3) Improve affiliate links with related products

Amazon “ordered items report” and “earnings report” offer great insight into what visitors from your blog or website end up buying on Amazon.com.

These reports provide great insight into new, unique and relevant products that you might not be aware of.

When you find such products, add affiliate links to those products on your site thereby introducing new relevant products to your visitors, increase affiliate click thrus, CPM fill rates and revenue.

In addition, Amazon also offers a special ad unit called “Native Shopping Ads” which provides relevant product recommendations in a customizable ad unit which you can place within your content.

You can allow Amazon to display dynamic recommendations or you can select specific products to display in your native shopping ad unit.

Native shopping ads will integrate seamlessly with your content; improve your click through rates; and enhance your visitor experience with relevant product recommendations.

4) Add additional ad units

This is kind of obvious but worth mentioning as it can really increase your revenue. Google AdSense allows you to add up to three AdSense ad units per page.

With Amazon CPM ads, you can add three additional ad units on your page without replacing any AdSense ad unit. While six ad units per page might not offer the best user experience, it’s possible to add maybe 1, 2 or all 3 additional Amazon ad unite with a creative site design and layout.

If your site design can accommodate it, adding ad slots for Amazon CPM ads can dramatically increase your overall revenue from the page.

To conclude, if you are using just AdSense on your site, Amazon CPM ads are a great way to increase your revenue while partnering with a strong brand which you know will serve high quality ads and improve overall user experience on your site.

Five tools to help you build a content-focused SEO campaign

tips-for-content-marketing-campaign

While SEO has become an involuntary function of marketing for all sorts of businesses, ranging from professional service firms to enterprise solutions providers, a lot of companies today are still struggling to integrate SEO successfully into their digital marketing efforts.

Over the past decade, SEO has become an extremely viable marketing outlet that results in more qualified leads and ultimately, more customers.

It has been widely reported that SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate while traditional or outbound marketing efforts such as print advertising and direct mail, only have a close rate of 1.7%.

Image: Online Marketing Coach

So what does it take to put together a strong SEO campaign?

It’s by no means a walk in the park, but it’s also not rocket science. Many small businesses are afraid that SEO will take up a lot of time and money without leading to quality outcomes.

While you most likely will not see big results overnight, there are many resources out there to push you in the right direction.

The biggest selling point in favor of the case for a consistent, all-out SEO campaign is the availability of SaaS tools that take care of almost every nuance and actionable component of SEO or related digital marketing tasks.

Let’s take a look at five tools that will help make your SEO investment a fruitful one. Certain tools in this list might be “suites” and have a great number of handy features, but I’m going to show you how they can be used for one specific function at a time.

Ahrefs – Keyword research

The foundation of any marketing campaign should begin with quality research on the goals and desires of your target audience.

The outcome of every SEO campaign begins in the search box – with a written or a spoken word. To get high returns down the line, you must put time into keyword research.

This is a make-or-break part of the campaign, no matter how much Google hides, groups or consolidates its keywords. Consider your industry’s keyword demand and determine which phrases or specific terms to target with your strategy. During this process, you will also learn a good deal about your customer base.

Ahrefs has a revamped Keywords Explorer tool (which tracks a base of 2.8 billion keywords) to help you gain these valuable insights:

ahrefs

The keywords explorer function on this platform lets you brainstorm a large number of possible terms or phrases that your company could rank for.

It provides a difficulty score of 1-100 based on how hard it would be for a specific entry to rank. Ahrefs also gives you thousands of keyword suggestions for your campaign which you can analyze by:

  • Monthly search volume
  • Top countries where the keyword is searched
  • Cost per click
  • Number of search results
  • Number of words in a keyword
  • Clicks per search result
  • How often people search for the keyword again
  • Traffic share per domain

In addition, Ahrefs also gives you an snapshot (current and historical) of the SERPs for your chosen search term.

Keyword research is one of the basic building blocks of an SEO campaign. With small details about how, when and where people are using them, you can predict shifts in demand, trends and buyer behavior.

SEMrush – Competitor analysis

Proper competitor analysis is a crucial part of marketing in general. Chances are, your competitors are researching your brand as you read this.

With a quality analysis of your competitor’s presence, promotions and messaging, you can gain an understanding of which channels to target and how to tweak your strategy in a way that maximizes conversion rates.

SEMrush is arguably the strongest competitor analysis tool out there when it comes to SEO.

semrush

SEMrush can give you real time, updated figures for potentially any of 74 million domains. It lets you gain insight into your competitors’ ongoing tactics by examining their:

  • Organic keyword positions
  • Top performing content
  • Advertising copy, costs and history
  • Display and video advertising analytics
  • Channel wise spend strategy
  • Backlinks
  • Traffic sources

SEMrush makes it simple to gather all the data you need and allowing you to organize it into customized PDFs or spreadsheets, as well as design your own reports. SEMrush also give you great insights into the kind of content you need to create and promote, in order to gain a competitive edge.

Brandwatch – Social media monitoring

Digital marketing is by no means a one size fits all entity. The truth of the matter is that consumer behaviors are constantly changing. When you start brainstorming ideas for compelling content to drive your SEO campaign, you need to know what exactly makes consumers tick.

And any one channel won’t tell you what makes consumers tick. However, there’s one place where conversations are constantly taking place: social media.

Brandwatch is a handy tool that lets you burrow into sources of consumer opinions across the social web. Keeping a critical eye on customer feedback and intent in the digital landscape is critical in planning your next move.

brandwatch

On the back of the huge “social” index that Brandwatch has built up, it can provide a breakdown of:

  • What trends impact your industry at the moment
  • Topics on which influencers are currently writing
  • The demographics of your audience
  • Audience activity, engagement and sentiment on various channels
  • Brand reach and visibility

With these insights, content creation for the foreseeable future becomes much easier for most brands, which can target the masses’ sentiments in their quest for a higher ROI on marketing.

Outbrain – Content amplification

Now that you’ve done all this research and gained critical insight, it’s time to release compelling content. The harsh reality is that putting together quality content for SEO requires a lot of time and resources. And that just gets you started – it’s even more difficult to get your audience to consume it, trust it, and act on it.

At the end of the day, content is the driving force that will get you leads, sales and loyalty. However, regardless of how great the content you produce is, it will be practically useless if it’s not promoted correctly.

That’s where Outbrain comes in. Outbrain works by recommending more content by relevance to blogs being read all over the internet at any given moment.

outbrain

Outbrain shows some 200 billion recommendations a month to a global audience of 557 million, and is used by brands such as McDonalds, Huggies, and Fleishman Hillard. Some of its features that can help you “storify” your content are:

  • Multiple, adaptable content formats
  • Story sequencing
  • Personalized and contextual targeting
  • Retargeting to custom audiences
  • Performance benchmarking by industry or geography

Some of the largest media properties on the web that can serve as promotional channels for your content via the Outbrain platform include The Washington Post, People, CNN, and ESPN.

No matter how big or small your business is, Outbrain can provide measurable means of promoting your content to an ever-expanding audience.

Buzzsumo – Content analytics

You’ve created awesome content and distributed it to the masses, but how exactly did it resonate with the audience? An SEO campaign should be a constant work in progress, if your content is to get you rankings, views and leads. Content insights are critical in learning how to properly optimize your conversion efforts.

Buzzsumo specializes in providing content analysis for SEO campaigns by finding the most shared content on a topic and the best influencers to promote it on the web.

buzzsumo

When you enter a topic or query, the tool starts by running reports on specific topics to reveal data such as the total articles written and platform-wise shares per article. Thereafter, you can discover:

  • Great content ideas for posts
  • The networks on which the content is getting the best reception
  • What type of content is generating the most shares and segment it by format and length
  • The most popular headlines that are grabbing attention
  • Which days of the week see the most shares
  • The most influential curators and aggregators within any niche
  • More insights by exporting raw data to spreadsheets

Such insights are key to the optimization process and provide direction to your content marketing strategy as your campaign progresses.

Final words

93% of online experiences begin with a search, Forrester Research found. This alone should be an indicator that SEO is here to stay.

Brands in the digital age should be sure to recognize its significance in marketing strategies for years to come and do their best to create, execute and constantly fine tune the approach that works best for them. There is no excuse for them not giving it their best.

Nine mobile trends to help you stand out in 2017 and beyond

micro moments

The way we ask for information is changing. The way we optimise must change too.

Mobile use overtook desktop use in 2010. Mobile search on Google overtook desktop search only 18 months ago, in May 2015.

How can we keep up with this fast paced device to stay ahead of the game tomorrow?

Mobile voice search: the game changer

A recent Yahoo study of 500,000 queries from Yahoo mobile search, performed by 50,000 unique users of the voice search interface over a six month period, found the following:

  • That voice search was more focused on audio-video content
  • Direct answer cards and food recipes were presented much higher on voice search compared to keyword typing
  • Voice search queries are not only longer but much richer
  • Voice search queries tend to focus on topics that require less interaction with the device’s touch screen

A few things we need to do immediately based on this study. The first is inspect our universal SERP result presence. The second is to write with rich natural language to increase your content quality.

The same study also thinks that engines need to experiment and factor in phonetic characteristics (e.g. searcher’s stress, speed and intonation for search personalisation) to really allow voice search to excel and become even more personalised.

Welcome to the future.

But to survive for the future of search our present foundations need to be solid. Let’s lay the foundation.

Micro moments: your audience

Considering you have covered the basics, such as implementing a responsive website, think of the various formats of content to get you closer to your audience.

The most obvious one is to think of your audiences’ learning styles and map these to your personas. Then match these with content formats.

Don’t stop here! Scale it up to survive and stand out.

Most mobile users who watch videos do so when little or no sound. Think learning styles and ensure your video can be watched in all ways – with or without sound. Think accessibility 100% of the time (more cool statistics here).

Once you know you have your personas completed, map these up to types of mobile motivations.

Mobile motivations: why we turn to mobiles?

Message notifications do not compel us to reply as some messages are ignored – what exactly compels us to use mobiles?

We all turn to our mobiles for one of five search motivations:

  • Curiosity – our interest in a subject is perked with an unfamiliar topic (e.g. when watching a movie we want to find out more about an actress)
  • Time killing – a desire to look up information to pass time
  • Knowledge – influenced by educational background (e.g. an web developer looking up information about JavaScript)
  • Life service – occur due to daily life (e.g. finding directions)
  • Social relations – whereby we want contact information to navigate our way through life or, secondly, we want to kill time to pass social situations
  • Mobile end-user behaviours: scale up your personas with motivations

    Single motivations trigger most mobile searches but some motivations have a tendency to overlap (e.g. curiosity and knowledge-based searches).

    This is true for both age and gender; but women tend to be more static compared to men who also often prefer to search outside, not surprising since men tend to smoke more than women.

    Mobile content: not just topic selection

    Don’t forget to make your content marketing strategy responsive and scale it up with human consumption.

    Mobile experience: brain processing

    We process images much faster than text. It’s no surprise that images on SERPs receive a lot of initial attention. With this in mind test everything to get closer to your audience.

    blue rankbrain

    Track your URLs’ metrics. If you were to move that image on your blog post down two paragraphs, for instance, would it reduce or increase the bounce rate? What would happen to the average time spent on the blog post if you were to summarise the whole post in 2-3 sentences? What would happen if you moved your social media sharing icons?

    Test, trial. Test, trial. Test, trial. WIN!

    Mobile code: structured data

    Do Schema. It is likely to be a ranking factor soon. Schema helps search engines, hence why a few different engines all signed up to it, to progress with semantics, specifically Resource Description Framework Schema abbreviated as RDF(S), and the tagging of information. Engines are far from semantic, however.

    Mobile apps: what app?

    Most of our time is spent on a handful of apps, not the web. Get App optimised.

    Are you doing AMP or Progressive Mobile Apps? Think about getting on the bandwagon.

    Note: Our behaviours in this sense is still very immature. Most mobile links shared on mobile, for example, do not trigger any follow ups in the real world (e.g. “we decided to go to the bar afterwards”). Shop abandonment may increase as this is not considered the real world until we get our credit card out.

    Mobile: the future will lead to smarter, more personalised SERPs

    Weather information is popular on voice searches because it requires little interaction. But with the rise of AI, it may be that organic results will soon factor in time and weather whereby a search for “[location] activities” will take into account the weather conditions to present more indoor activities on a rainy day, for example.

    Google’s Dave Byrne announced at Yext’s LocationWorld that local 3-pack results will soon display prices and allow the searcher to filter by star ratings within the 3-pack listing.

    So there you go. One day voice search itself may determine what SERP is presented and when. Get ready by knowing your audience and their mobile motivations.

    How to minimise the interaction cost of your web forms

    /IMG/215/335215/crate-checkout-guest

    Completing a web form online takes time and effort. This effort can be minimised by structuring the form well, and giving it a flow which will make it easier for customers.

    Indeed, every action a user takes within checkout carries a cost. This is sometimes referred to as an ‘interaction cost’.

    Every interaction your user has with your checkout carries a cost. This can be physical, in terms of a click or keypress, or mental, where a user has to remember a piece of information, or a cost to you, in terms of storing the information given. The goal in your checkout design should be to minimise the ‘Interaction Cost’ as much as possible.

    ClickZ and fospha will be hosting a webinar on this topic, How to optimize your forms for maximum success, on 15th November. We also have a free white paper to download: A Marketer’s Guide to Form Optimisation.

    Here’s a selection of tips to improve the structure and process of your checkout…

    1. Design for the most common scenarios first

    Most transactions will be straightforward, with the person placing the order being the same person it’s shipped to. They’re using their card, and the billing and shipping addresses are the same.

    The focus should be to make this process as easy as possible as a first priority, designing overrides for edge cases later.

    2. Use data to decide on structure

    Analytics will help you to prioritise form elements. If you’re redesigning an existing checkout, then you should have data from this.

    For example, you could prioritise the most popular payment options or, if customers tend to order infrequently or seasonally, then it can be a good option to push guest checkout and reduce the prominence of the login / sign up option.

    3. Ask one question per page or section

    When designing your checkout form, it’s better to start from a multi-page design first.

    Each page should ask a single question of the user. This doesn’t mean one field per page, but the topic of the question. For example, Lowe’s has a section for address details, one for shipping options, one for payment:

    Asking one question per page helps the user understand what they’re being asked, helps them focus, is easier to navigate on a mobile device, and assists with validation and error recovery.

    4. Plan for edge cases

    This is any scenario that happens infrequently. It could be a stock out event, or requirement for the user to change shipping method based on delivery address.

    Edge cases often require the user to go back one or more pages in the checkout. You should be analysing the percentage and volume of these cases within your analytics platform, as changes in audience can often require changes in your checkout.

    5. Show form progression clearly

    Progress indication is vital within a checkout. It informs the user which tasks they have completed and what is left to do.

    Within a single-page checkout, progression can be indicated by scroll-length, as well as descriptive and visible section headings.

    In a multi-page checkout, this can be indicated by a progress bar, showing the number of pages, with brief headings indicating content.

    progress-ind

    6. Indicate field length

    Correct field length provides a visual clue to the user regarding the amount of information required. For example, showing a shortened postcode field, or CV2 field, tells the user than only a handful or characters or numbers are needed.

    ao.com Shopping Basket

    7. Use appropriate field types

    Field type indicators are hints to the browser of the type of information that is being required. For example, you can prompt mobile browsers to show a numeric keyboard for a card number, rather than the standard alphanumeric keyboard.

    Doing so lowers the interaction cost for the user to switch from one keyboard type to another.

    form-opt12

    8. Provide field hints to help users

    Sometimes, it is necessary to prompt the user as to what information a field is asking for, for example, a strong password or a CV2 number.

    Field hints can take the form of an inline text placeholder, an annotation, or in some cases, a graphic.

    owes2

    9. Use auto-parsing and formatting

    Some fields, such as phone number and credit card, can be auto formatted to help the user check if they have entered the correct information.

    For example, you can enter a space or dash after each set of four numbers entered in the credit card number field of your payment form.

    10. Make sure you’re tracking form errors

    Ultimately, once your checkout is launched, you will wish to analyse its performance, and optimise it appropriately.

    It’s important to note that before you can run form analysis tools on your checkout, it must be coded correctly.

    You can sign up for the form optimization webinar here. It takes place on 15th November.

    10 ideas to market and monetize your digital book or whitepaper

    kajabi

    Are you planning to create a digital guide for your customers? Or a downloadable checklist or a whitepaper?

    Whether it’s a huge book or a few-page long digital guide, you have quite a few unique ways to market and monetize it.

    Creating a digital book can help you with quite a few marketing goals:

    • Downloadable assets build loyalty allowing your customers to take your brand home
    • It can be an effective lead magnet
    • It can be used to attract backlinks and social media votes
    • It is a powerful influencer marketing tool

    Whether you plan to publish a paperback or a digital book or both, there are quite a few ways to market it online.

    From social media to blogging, the opportunities for spreading the word about who you are and what you do are nearly unlimited online, leaving you with a vast sea of potential with which to perfect your work and hawk your wares.

    Here are just a few actionable tips to market your digital book online.

    1. Monetize your book through a course

    Co-promoting a book and the course is a productive way to build your niche authority while monetizing your expertise.

    You can monetize your free book through a course or you can offer the book as a bonus download for everyone completing the course. I’ve done both giving away a few first chapters for free enticing people to enrol onto the course to watch videos and download more.

    Kajabi is a great platform to come up with content upgrades that you can put together into courses and packages to sell online. It provides you with powerful themes, hosts your videos, processes payments for you and gives you access to the community that can become another powerful source for your content discovery.

    It even let’s you create landing pages to promote your book and build easy to build email drips to interact with readers.

    2. Turn your digital book into a flipbook

    More and more of your potential customers are going to land on your pages using mobile devices. Serving them a special call-to-action with a smartphone-friendly product is the best way to convert them.

    Flipsnack is a great free way to turn your digital book into a flipbook your visitors will enjoy interacting with. You can even embed a flipbook on your web page. You can see dozens of awesome examples here:

    Flipsnack

    3. Create a landing page or a dedicated niche website

    In order to make the most of what the internet has to offer, consider launching a new site on your book. You can join our challenge to get that job done easier by using the help of the community. There’s no cost involved, so check it out.

    Start a new site

    4. Invite contributors and reviewers

    These days when the internet has made collaboration so easy, there’s no excuse for doing anything alone. Invite known niche influencers to contribute a quote to your digital book or provide a short testimonial.

    Having well-recognized name on your landing page will make promotion much easier. Here’s a good example for your explanation:

    Invite contributors

    5. Reach outside of your social media circles

    Too often authors expect their books to catch attention simply because they are well-written, but this is rarely the case; in a world filled to the brim with writers and hundreds of new books published every single day, it can be very difficult to stand out in the crowd.

    In order to give your book the exposure that it deserves, you’ll need to turn to the ever-popular world of social media.

    Start out by submitting information about, excerpts from, and articles related to your book on popular social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, then take the time to utilize a free tool like Viral Content Buzz in order to push them as far and wide throughout the social media landscape as possible.

    Viral Content Buzz

    Make sure to promote all articles that mention your book too! Promote your promoters!

    6. Engage with your supporters

    Set aside a bit of time each day – as few as 15 minutes should do the trick – to answer questions, respond to comments, join in on chat sessions, and start new conversations of your own.

    This kind of effort is sure to lead to memorable engagement, helping to push interested parties over the edge when they’re deciding whether or not to invest in your work.

    Use Commun.it to manage your online engagement, especially if you cannot afford the time to chat online daily responding to comments.

    Commun.it

    7. Set up dedicated social media profiles for your book

    It’s a common question: should I create a separate Twitter account, a separate Facebook page, a separate Instagram profile, etc. for my digital book project? My advice is always, you should.

    Branded social media presence allows for more opportunities even if you only use the accounts to broadcast your business social media updates (when you have no time for anything else). They will build up their own following and will ultimately increase your risk.

    I use MavSocial to broadcast to multiple social media accounts and pages and semi-automate the process. I also use Cyfe to monitor social media growth of my accounts and spot any negative trend if any:

    Cyfe

    8. Market your book on Amazon

    There’s a weird thing going on with Amazon writers: the minute you are there, you are considered an authority. It will be much easier to market yourself as a serious writer once you establish yourself as an Amazon writer.

    Getting on Amazon is not tough: Here’s a very detailed tutorial. It’s promoting your book there which will take some considerable time. And having a listing with no reviews will do no good for your brand, so you’ll have to dedicate some time to getting your book reviewed on Amazon.

    amazon direct publishing dashboard

    The good news is, the connections you make along the way will last for years, so you won’t waste your time. You can also market yourself on Good Reads too.

    9. Set up a launch party on Twitter

    Regular Twitter chats may be exhausting to set up and market but a one-time event could give you a huge boost without taking too much time. TwChat is a great tool to host the party: It takes minutes to set up and you get a well-branded neat landing page to promote.

    Here’s a good example of a book launch party hosted on TwChat.

    #WeNeedToTalkGuide Twitter launch party

    You can use your branded hashtag later on any time you mention your book on Twitter. That’s a great way to consolidate and market Twitter sentiment.

    10. Never give up

    Often, writers find themselves ecstatic about the possibilities their finished work present which provides them with a boost of energy and good spirits that can lead to a great job done of marketing and pushing the finished product.

    Conversely, though, the lack of initial results that they’re sure to experience can cause those hopeful feelings to dry up very quickly, leaving a despondent – and often lethargic – writer and marketer behind.

    To avoid this trouble for yourself, be sure to go into your marketing phase with the same patience that you used to craft your digital book to begin with, working with the understanding that every worthwhile endeavour takes time to come to fruition.

    Keep working hard through both the good times and bad, and don’t allow a lack of success – or even success itself – to slow you down.

    Google’s mobile-first index: how to prepare your business

    man's hands with smartphone

    The important news that we have all been waiting for, Google has finally announced mobile-first indexing.

    This of course takes into account that the majority of Google users now “search” on mobile devices, as opposed to desktop computers, and so a shift needed to happen somewhere at some point.

    The fact now is that businesses will need to adjust to this new algorithm.

    Even if the majority of your users are not searching for your company or industry on mobile devices, you will now need to take mobile search into account for best practice SEO.

    Below covers the news from Google and then breaks-down exactly what you need to do to have your business be prepared.

    Mobile-first indexing: how it works

    Google announced that to date, its search engine has prioritized analysis of desktop version of a webpage’s content rather than mobile version in ranking on Google results pages—even though the majority of “Google Searchers” are using mobile devices.

    As you might expect, they found this to be problematic, as it did not account for the mobile version in determining quality of web pages. Since mobile pages are ultimately the preference for most users searching Google, something had to change.

    Google acknowledges that the goal is really to improve the experience for users, whether they are on desktop or mobile. This means that businesses are going to have to pay attention to both the functionality of their desktop page, as well as their mobile page (although this part isn’t really THAT new, since businesses should be optimizing for mobile by now).

    Google will continue to index on one page as it does now rather than having a separate index for website and mobile. That being said, it will now place value on mobile pages when indexing a site and determining its position on search results.

    Their index is actually going to be primarily comprised by mobile pages, meaning that snippets, structured data, and other content will appear on Google search results.

    This is clearly a huge change in indexing, and even if you have been working on mobile optimization and planning for this kind of change over the past months or years, there are still things your business needs to do to be prepared. In the next section we will explore these more in-depth so that you can make a preparation checklist as we enter the New Year.

    How your business can be prepared

    Don’t panic just yet if you feel like your site is not quite ready to be indexed for mobile, there are definitely things you can do to improve your site right away!

    Below are some tips to get you started that directly correlate to this new announcement from Google:

    • Make sure to run a mobile friendly test to make sure your website is optimized for mobile use
    • Check out Google’s primary mobile guide for more information on optimization
    • Google’s how-to guide helps you make sure your third party hosting site is working right

    mobile-friendly-test

    Optimizing for Mobile Indexing:

    • Mobile Responsiveness. If your site already has a responsive design, by Google’s standards, you will likely not have to do much to be properly indexed for mobile.
    • Mobile Site Configuration. If the content and markup of your site is different on mobile and desktop, you are going to have to make some changes. Read more about site configuration here.
    • Structured Data Testing. Run structured data tests for both URLs and compare the output. Adjust any errors that might be present, but avoid adding any markup that isn’t necessary to mobile sites.
    • Googlebots. Run the txt testing tool to make sure that the mobile version of your site is accessible to Googlebot—this will be key for indexing.
    • Canonical Links. If your site does have canonical links, there is no need to make changes. Google claims that they will “continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile”.
    • Verify in Search Console. If you have only verified the “desktop version” of your site, you will need to verify your mobile version as well.
    • Building a Mobile Site. If you are building a separate mobile site, it is better to wait and launch it when it is fully functional, rather than launching it too soon. Google will continue to index desktop sites, so it is better to have a quality and complete mobile site.
    • Webmaster Forums. If you have specific questions on your mobile site, you can contact Google Webmasters

    It is going to take some time for Google to make this change in prioritizing mobile indexing, so in the mean time, do all that you can to optimize your site and get prepared!

    Going through the optimization list will be comprehensive enough to make sure your site is indexed at this point. Google is very likely to put out more information soon, since this is so new, so stay tuned!

    The Takeaway

    As we all prepare for Google to make the shift to mobile-first indexing, it is really important to make sure that your business site is not only optimized for mobile, but also ready to be searched by Googlebots and indexed in general.

    Ultimately, while your desktop version is the version that is affecting your search results currently, this is going to shift shortly. The sooner you can make improvements to your mobile site, the better.

    Keep in mind that these efforts for optimization are not just for indexing, but also for mobile users. The reason Google is prioritizing mobile pages and going “mobile-first” is because most users search on mobile, so this is really for your audience and to better you company all around!

    Is there anything else you are doing to your website to prepare for this shift? Let us know in the comment section below.

    Are you asking for too much information on web forms?

    how

    Long web forms can deter customers, and one way to reduce the workload is to remove unnecessary fields and questions.

    Your customers will understand that a certain amount of information is required – to complete a transaction, to register etc.

    However, it’s important to realise the drawbacks of being seen to ask too much of users. These are:

    • Too many fields / pages in a form will lead a certain amount of users to abandon the process, costing lost sales and leads.
    • People will also drop out if they encounter questions which they consider irrelevant. For example, they may wonder why their date of birth is needed to order a kettle.
    • Even if people complete the form, if it felt like hard work to them, they may be less likely to make repeat purchases.

    ClickZ and fospha will be hosting a webinar on this topic, How to optimize your forms for maximum success, on 15th November. We also have a free white paper to download: A Marketer’s Guide to Form Optimisation.

    In the meantime, let’s take look at how much information is too much information.

    The Question Protocol

    How do you decide which fields are necessary and which can be left out? For this, the Question Protocol, (as explained by Lovehoney’s Matt Curry in our recent Ecommerce Checkout guide) is very useful.

    It’s a way to decide which fields are actually important to the process, and which are unnecessary. It also has the benefit of keeping company politics away from decision making.

    For every question you ask during checkout, ask the following:

    • Why does the business need this information?
    • Who uses the information and what for?
    • Which users need to provide the information?
    • How will the business check that the information is accurate?
    • How will the business keep the information up to date?

    Matt adds a follow-up question: How frequently is the information provided by users? If people aren’t bothering to complete a particular form field, then why include it?

    An example of this is the field many sites still use, asking people where they heard about the business in the first place.

    Yes, this may have been useful to the marketing department so they can tie a visit into a particular press or TV campaign.

    However, most of the answers to such questions can now be found in analytics. If a customer came from an email campaign, or through search, then the figures are there to see.

    Moreover, and especially when presented in long drop-downs as above, users will frequently ignore this field. Or, if forced to complete it, they may not take it seriously. I tend to pick the first answer just to get past it.

    All of which means that the information may not actually be useful in the end anyway.

    Other examples of unnecessary form fields include date of birth and gender. These are not required to complete checkout, though they may be of use to the marketing department.

    ASOS, for example, asks for a date of birth. It does at least explain why, providing an incentive for people.

    Perhaps this works for ASOS. It could be that the marketing benefits of such information outweigh the potential abandonments. However, businesses should be aware of the risks when adding extra fields to checkout.

    You can sign up for the form optimization webinar here. It takes place on 15th November.

    Five most important search marketing news stories of the week

    Two images side by side, the left-hand image showing Google search on mobile without Google Home Services ads, and the right-hand one showing Google Home Services ads on mobile. A caption at the top reads: Find the right handyman for the job with a cartoon image of a person with a ponytail doing DIY underneath. The text beneath it invites the user to 'Describe the job and get personalized quotes.' Then beneath that is the question, What do you need help with? accompanied by a series of grey buttons listing options: Drywall, fans, flooring, furniture assembly, gutter cleaning and home theater.

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

    I hope all of our readers are holding up okay after the absolute bombshell development that took place earlier this week.

    I’m talking, of course, about the news that Facebook is to begin delivering its Audience Network to television devices, bringing a new level of ad targeting to the space. (What did you think I was referring to?)

    Also in search news, Google Home Services ads appear in mobile search before disappearing again; a look at how Google Symptom Search will affect the healthcare industry; and Match.com is the top-ranked dating site for paid search advertising.

    Facebook is bringing its Audience Network to television

    Audience Network, Facebook’s answer to Google AdSense, is an increasingly important asset for Facebook as it sets out to address ad load challenges that could become a real problem in 2017.

    Al Roberts wrote this week on Search Engine Watch about how Facebook’s advertising efforts will enter a new frontier as it begins delivering video ads to consumers using devices like AppleTV and Roku. Roberts explained:

    Initially, it won’t sell inventory to marketers. Instead, it will serve up house ads for Facebook services or nonprofits it works with.

    To target ads, Facebook will use the IP addresses of connected TV devices to identify the Facebook accounts that are likely associated with those devices.

    Google Home Services ads come to mobile search (then disappear again)

    Last Friday, Andy Favell reported for Search Engine Watch that Google has been trialling Google Home Services ads on mobile in a clear sign that Google intends to roll the GHS beta program out to its mobile platform.

    The brief trial gave us a glimpse at what the ads will look like when they do arrive on mobile, and how the format will differ from desktop. In his article, Andy Favell recaps the history of Google Home Services and considers the possible effect it might have on the future of mobile local search.

    How Google Symptom Search will affect the healthcare industry

    We’ve all heard the jokes about WebMD and its shaky diagnoses, or hypochondriac internet users who self-diagnose with any number of horrific illnesses without once consulting an actual doctor. But Jonathan Catley believes that Google Symptom Search is revolutionising the healthcare industry, and doctors should embrace it as an opportunity to provide better care.

    Writing for Search Engine Watch this week, Catley explained that Google Symptom Search is aimed at counteracting the amount of inaccurate information about illnesses floating around on the web.

    Symptom search represents a big step forward in the fight against misinformation in the digital patient path to treatment. Currently available only on mobile, the feature allows users to enter just a few symptoms, yielding a short, vetted list of related conditions, possible causes, and treatments.

    It’s designed to avoid alarmist diagnoses while focusing on the most likely causes of your condition.

    Catley believes that Google Symptom Search forms part of the “consumer-driven disruption in healthcare”, which encompasses businesses like Dispatch, Pager, and MedZed as well as remote patient monitoring technologies and start-ups like BeWell Connect.

    Match.com ranks top for paid search advertising

    According to research by AdGooroo, Match.com was the top ranked dating site in terms of paid search spend between January and October 2016.

    In order to put together the ranking, AdGooroo looked at 312 top branded and non-branded keywords being sponsored by dating advertisers in US Google desktop text ads.

    Image: AdGooroo

    Match.com, which is owned by InterActiveCorp, not only spent more than $5.7 million on the keyword group during time period examined, it also drove more clicks than any other advertiser during the period. Meanwhile, the dating site which got the best value for its clicks was zoosk.com, spending just $1.2 million but driving close to 4.9 million clicks, at an average cost per click of $0.25.

    Check out Adgooroo’s blog post for full details of the study and analysis of the rankings.

    Donald Trump is the first earned media president

    Finally, unless you’ve been completely cut off from the world around you or just woke up from inside a cave, you might have heard the news that Donald Trump has been elected 45th president of the United States.

    Al Roberts wrote an insightful piece on our sister site ClickZ about how Trump may well be the first ‘earned media president’ of the United States, after Barack Obama became the first ‘social media president’ in 2008.

    Roberts looks into how Trump’s campaign succeeded despite spending far less on advertising than his opponent Hillary Clinton, and how his willingness to criticise and attack the media itself actually worked in his favour.

    While the experts will have to explore and debate the reasons the Clinton campaign failed to live up to their expectations, just as President Obama’s 2008 campaign made it clear that future campaigns couldn’t ignore social media, President Elect Trump’s 2016 campaign has made it clear that future campaigns will not be able to ignore earned media.

    Why local matters, even for national advertisers

    cost per sale

    There’s been a lot of talk recently about personalization as Google, Facebook, and others continue to roll out new targeting features.

    These features like Customer Match and Custom Audiences allow advertisers to target consumers based on previous data captured. These targeting capabilities have been incredible at driving improved return on investment.

    I think these features are not only better for advertisers, but also consumers. However, what I continue to find interesting in these campaigns is the lack of focus on localization.

    Location

    The power of location is incredibly valuable, especially with the growth of mobile.

    According to eMarketer, 93% of retail sales still happen in-store. Google data shows that 66% of people want ads customized to their location.

    Now I understand why localization is often over looked. It’s harder to manage ads at local levels. Things are just easier to manage at scale, one bid, one keyword, one ad. Localizing things still requires a tremendous amount of effort, but effort that is well worth it, even for those brands that are truly national or ecommerce only.

    I took a look at national conversion data and the top five volume states. What you can see is Texas has the highest Cost Per Sale than any of the other top five states, but has the second highest conversion rate. So how could this be?

    This is a combination of multiple potential factors that include competition, bid strategy, product availability, and many more.

    If you are looking at the campaign at a national level you’d miss this data. If you went a step deeper you might say Texas is not worth the investment if you could get more volume from the better performing states.

    cost per conversion

    However, breaking down even the performance in Texas you find some great areas of opportunity.

    Several of the largest volume cities are below the total average. So as with most things you can’t just throw the baby out with the bath water. However, because it is difficult to scale this type of analysis brands simply elect for the easier path and manage at a national level.

    cost per sale per city

    So if we know that consumers want localized content/ads and performance varies significantly by state and city what is the best way to take advantage of this knowledge?

    Here are four ideas to consider:

    Duplicate and break out high volume areas

    You don’t need to break out every single city, but identifying key markets where the volume will significantly impact total results can make a big difference. This means both high and low performers. Just because you sell nationally doesn’t mean you need to advertise and pay for traffic nationally.

    ABT – Always Be Testing

    Take a run at some key markets with different ad copy and landing page experiences. What are the ways that showing localization to your customers can drive impact? Is it mentioning their local city in the copy? Is it using local images on the landing page?

    Experience your brand as a customer

    This suggestion has shown up a few times in articles I’ve written, but it just make sense. I find too often brands create the strategy, but never experience the execution of that strategy. Do a search for your brand as a customer locally might. Does your brand appear the way you want it to? Are the competitors and their offers what you expected them to be? Usually brands are surprised by how different the real world is vs.

    Pressure test the metrics you are using

    This is a big one for local. So many brands view success of online marketing as online sales. However, it just isn’t that simple. Many consumers want to transact in person and an online sale just doesn’t that into account. Now the industry hasn’t figured this out yet, but it is no different for TV and other offline channels and billions of dollars still go to those channels. Why? Because they work and people know it in their gut or from their own experiences as consumers.

    If you can’t tie specific offline sales data to online behavior there are two things I recommend;

    • Value non-conversion events like “Find a Store,” “Contact Us,” “Phone Calls.” Just use some math to determine these values.
    • Create a waterfall flow of consumer behavior to determine ROI. Go from impressions, clicks, store visits, in store conversion rate, average order size to get estimated revenue. There are third party studies by Google and others to help create valid assumptions. Here’s an example – https://think.storage.googleapis.com/docs/how-advertisers-can-extend-their-relevance-with-search_research-studies.pdf

    Overall location maters in all that we do in our lives and this fact will never change. Heck I live in Cleveland and when I cross the city to the east side I feel like I’m in a different country. I’m sure you as a consumer feel the same way. So why would your advertising be any different?

    How Black Friday can lead to valuable organic search opportunities

    fr

    Black Friday can be a great commercial opportunity for brands, but how can you create a successful strategy for the big day?

    Black Friday is a perfect retail opportunity, but it still requires the proper analysis of data to create a strategy that will lead to desired results.

    According to Adobe Digital Index, US online sales on Black Friday increased by 14.3% in 2015, while The Guardian reports that shoppers spent £1.1bn online in the UK on Black Friday in 2015.

    The Pi Datametrics Gamma report offers interesting insights on what makes a successful Black Friday strategy and how US and UK brands react to it.

    What makes Black Friday so appealing and what’s the first step towards an effective strategy?

    The PIRP strategy

    The first step is to create an effective plan to organise your actions. Pi Datametrics introduces the PIRP strategy:

    • Plan early
    • Influence at the right time
    • Peak at the right time
    • Repeat – utilise last year’s page

    Every step is important and you can’t be prepared for a seasonal event without the right strategy. Therefore, it’s important to organise the content, plan how you will use it, analyse your audience, make the necessary consumer research and reach the peak purchase with a greater certainty on how your brand can stand out and boost sales.

    Your Black Friday strategy should focus on capitalising the increased traffic, using it for future campaigns (Cyber Monday, Christmas, etc.)

    Identifying the most valuable organic opportunities

    A valuable search term is one that may lead to the desired conversion, going beyond the traffic. This means that a brand shouldn’t always focus on the most popular choice, but rather the most useful one.

    For example, the term “Black Friday” may have the highest search volume, but it’s the only the fourth most valuable search term on the day in the UK and the seventh most valuable term in the US.

    fr2

    On the contrary, the term “Black Friday deals” seems to be the most valuable organic opportunity, both for the UK and US searches. A closer look at the two tables indicates how longer-tail keywords with higher relevance can become more valuable, offering bigger chances of conversion. It may even help a brand beat the competition, or reach a new audience by thinking outside the box.

    fr3

    The rise of the term “deal”

    Searches that include the word “deal” seem to be on the rise and most of them are specific enough to add value to the user.

    Every year the number of searches for “deals” increases, which may help a brand understand its consumers and focus on the most useful terms.

    fr4

    How US brands reach UK users

    It’s interesting to note that US brands dominate Google UK, especially when it comes to the term “Black Friday”. Seven out of the top 9 sites in Google UK for “Black Friday” are US-based, which shows that UK retailers need to improve their optimisation.

    The top five UK performers for “Black Friday deals” are Argos, Amazon UK, Currys, Tesco, and HotUKdeals, with many of them aiming at a consistent presence throughout the year. This allows them to implement the PIPR strategy and enjoy the results during the peak period.

    fr7

    Argos reaches #1 on SERPs for “Black Friday deals” and it seems to be consistent during the year, with its landing page ensuring that it doesn’t miss its focus.

    fr9

    How can retailers benefit from Black Friday?

    Black Friday may be a great retail opportunity, but not all retailers benefit from it.

    Moreover, it’s not just a day that will bring to your site a traffic boost and sales, but rather a carefully planned strategy which may run throughout the entire year.

    Here are the key tips to remember:

    • Black Friday is not just about one day (plan ahead, think of future opportunities)
    • Right after Black Friday, your business should use the momentum to plan for Cyber Monday, but also Christmas. How about linking them all together to your strategy?
    • Don’t focus on generic terms, find the best ones that work for your audience
    • Keep in mind how consumers prefer online and mobile purchases and plan accordingly. It might even require a shift of focus towards Cyber Monday
    • Not every business benefits from Black Friday, don’t be obliged to join if it’s not bringing you the planned ROI.